Another Health Issue Put Me Back in the ‘Cancer Gray Zone’


I once again find myself in the cancer gray zone after being diagnosed with pulmonary lung disease — will this lead to another cancer diagnosis?

Well, I'm in the gray zone again, as I just got diagnosed with another health problem: restrictive lung disease, which makes it hard to take a breath in, to inhale.

What I mean by the "gray zone" is that I'm in the realm of potential cancer again. I wouldn't think this if my radiation treatment in 2012 didn’t give me secondary cancer in 2016, but it did. I got burned once. Will I get burned again? 

The doctor is postulating that my lungs could have been damaged during my radiation treatments for my first breast cancer, 10 years ago. He's sending me to a pulmonologistfor a bronchoscopy, a test that examines the lungs and air passages.

This time around, I'm surprisingly calm about the possibility of more cancer.

Ironically, this whole lung issue was also possibly triggered by a rare fungus that is native to New Mexico. Breathing in the fungus, according to a doctor I respect, could have "set me off," and the fact that my lungs might have been damaged from radiation for cancer treatment makes the condition all the worse. We vacationed in New Mexico this past summer, and if I knew then what I know now, I think I might have gone elsewhere.

We're much further along than when my son was six, and I was getting chemo, a mastectomy and radiation for the first cancer. He turned 18 in September. He's on his way to adulthood and voted in the recent midterm election. He's chosen his college and his degree program — graphic design.

READ MORE: I Had No Clue Cancer Would Be So Hard on My Kid

I'm turning 60 in February. What if the third time is not a charm, and I pass away from a third cancer?

Sweep that thought under the rug. I can't afford to contemplate it now. I must remain neutral, gray.My luck could change, or it couldn't.

If things go south, I will throw myself into the hands of doctors again.There are a lot of good healers out there, and the fact that I'm still alive is a testament to this.The oncologist that took care of me for ten years retired, but her associate, whom I trust, is still around.

I know many people the doctors couldn't save, likeJudy and Annie in particular. Judy was a librarian at my school, and Annie was a girl I grew up with, my next-door neighbor. Both women died of breast cancer, taken very young. Both had small children.

At least my son is a little older now. That provides some relief.

I feel seasoned with this issue — the gray zone — where I could get good news or bad.

Bring on the good news.

And I promise, I'll be a good girl.

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.

Related Videos
Image of a man with rectangular glasses and short dark hair.
Image of a woman with long dark hair.
Image of Kristen Dahlgren at Extraordinary Healer.
Image of a woman with short blonde hair wearing a white blazer.
Image of a woman with black hair.
Image of a woman with brown shoulder-length hair in front of a gray background that says CURE.
Sue Friedman in an interview with CURE
Catrina Crutcher in an interview with CURE
Related Content