Inconclusive Lung Cancer Test Results

For Sandy Spears, the road to a lung cancer diagnosis was head-spinning: simultaneously moving at warp speed and in slow motion. In November, Sandy was so short of breath she was unable to speak. She went to her local ER for help, and was eventually sent home with discharge papers titled “lung cancer.” A few weeks later, a needle biopsy came back “undiagnosable.” A bronchoscopy several weeks after that read the same: “undiagnosable.” Sandy wasn’t convinced by her lung cancer tests results: she knew in her gut that she had lung cancer.

Her Suspicions Confirmed, Sandy Faced New Challenges

March 2016, Sandy came down with what she thought was the flu. She was on life support within hours, her body in septic shock, her kidneys failing. Sandy was near death. In a surgery Sandy has no recollection of undergoing, doctors performed a more invasive bronchoscopy. This time, the test results confirmed that she had Stage 4 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer with no targeted mutations, but an elevated PDL1.

Before she was well enough to have the cancerous section of her lung surgically removed, Sandy had to endure months of around-the-clock oxygen, pulmonary rehab, and speech therapy. She underwent a lobectomy in May, more than six months after her initial diagnosis. But Sandy was not out of the woods yet.

Scheduled to begin aggressive chemotherapy treatment in August, new symptoms surfaced. With alarming regularity, Sandy was tripping, falling, suffering from headaches, and was unable to walk without veering off to the right. She was so concerned that she looked into assisted living facilities. Sandy would soon learn that she had a four-centimeter tumor in her brain.

More Tests, More Treatment

Following a craniotomy and brain radiation, she was clear of disease for six months. Test results then revealed a growth on her omentum, a thin fold of abdominal tissue that encases the stomach. This growth and her elevated PDL1 actually made her a good candidate for immunotherapy treatment, holding things at bay for a full year. Once there was progression, Sandy underwent an omentectomy and 15 rounds of subsequent radiation. She had her last radiation on Black Friday 2018.

Some good advice from Sandy:

“I wanted to know more so I Googled lung cancer. Don’t do that.”