Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles highlighting cancer survivors.
“I am one of those people who never seemed to get more than general colds, flu and sometimes sprains or minor injuries. I never had any childhood diseases other than the three-day measles. I only had one broken bone while growing up. So, I wrongfully assumed I was going to live my life illness and injury free, until the Lord took me home. Man, was I wrong,” said Jane Gatian, a Lewis County lung cancer survivor.
In September of 2013, Gatian developed a cough, that she just couldn’t get rid of. Her husband, Larry, was a respiratory therapist, and he took her to the Emergency Room (ER). After multiple tests and x-rays, she was told she had developed a mass in the lower lobe of her right lung.
She then was referred to a pulmonologist, who told her the 7-millimeter mass was blocking one of the airways to the lower part of her lung. This same blockage also caused her to develop pneumonia.
Afterward, she was referred to a pulmonary surgeon, who then ordered a PET scan. The results concluded that Gatian did have cancer. Gatian then had a biopsy, in which a needle was inserted into the mass to determine more information about it.
The day after the biopsy, she began to have pain in the right side of her chest, she said. Her husband checked her lungs and couldn’t hear anything, so he rushed her to the hospital. Her lung had collapsed. A chest tube was inserted into her chest wall to reinflate her lung. Her hospital stay lasted approximately four days.
Later on in her journey, she was scheduled to go to the hospital again for an outpatient surgery, a second biopsy at the top of the lung, to make sure her lymph nodes were not impacted by the cancer. The results of the biopsy showed a paralyzed vocal cord, but no cancer of the lymph nodes.
“Now it was time to determine what to do about my little cancer problem,” said Gatian.
Between her surgeon and her family, they determined that the best solution was to be cut the cancer out, but because of her previous diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the surgeon would not be able to remove the entire lower lobe.
The surgeon told her that this instance of cancer would not kill her, but she would probably have a reoccurrence of cancer again, and one day would die from cancer.
“After my husband and I had left his office, I told my husband that I did not believe that would be my fate. I believe that Jesus had his hand on me and that
everything would by okay,” recalled Gatian.
Her surgery was slated for Dec. 16, 2013. She was in the hospital until Dec. 23, 2012, when she was finally able to return home. When Gatian returned home, a storm had blown half her roof off, which damaged her bedroom, bathroom and upstairs. While the home was being repaired, Gatian had to be confined to a recliner.
Once home, Gatian was unable to lie flat anymore and needed a hospital bed to sleep. She also used oxygen at night, which she still uses. She cannot walk far distances or up and down stairs.
“If it wasn’t for my wonderful family, my situation would be a lot worse than it is,” said Gatian.
The surgeon told her that she had a 23 percent chance that the cancer would return.
“I told him that was not right, but that I have a 77 percent chance that it will not return,” said Gatian.
The surgeon scheduled her appointments with two other doctors, one for chemotherapy and one for radiation. Both doctors told her she did not need those treatments.
“As of today, I am cancer free, and all I can say is that is because of Jesus Christ and my faith in him,” concluded Gatian.