It all started in December 2017. I felt run down and tired all the time with sore ribs and just feeling utterly exhausted. i had been working as an electrician and working 50 to 60 hours week. With that much time doing physical labor I has assumed I had been tired from working. I had been skydiving 2 month prior and working on becoming licensed. Unfortunately feeling as drained as I did I decided it was a better option to stop skydiving until I could feel better because I was starting to feel unsafe flying due to nausea and dizziness and I had already started taking time off work due to feeling ill. In February I was still working my job as an electrician. I was digging in power lines for a casino I was helping build. While digging I felt a pain that i can only describe as muscle tearing feeling in my chest over where my heart is located. Every time I would twist, i would lose my breath and grab my chest. Personally, I thought I was having a heart attack. I left work and went to the emergency room to get checked out. I had a chest xray and EKG done and every thing looked great. Less than a week later I received a letter in the mail saying they had found lung nodules on my left side and that I Should have my primary care doctor check me out. I have always been a "if it doesnt hurt don't fix it" type of guy so I didn't have a doctor in the v.a. I requested to be seen with the va and was assigned a doctor. My first appointment I discussed all of my symptoms to her and showed her the xrays of my chest. I could tell she had tuned me out once I started explaining things. She casually diagnosed me with heartburn and asked me if I wanted prilosec otc. I declined the medication due to having had a history of heartburn and I knew that's not what I was dealing with. The same doctor had then scheduled me a pet scan which is the imaging test used for cancer. The radiologist called me and we set up an appointment. The day of the appointment I went in and upon arriving I was informed that the doctor had canceled my test due to she didn't see it necessary and I was turned away. I felt hopeless and went to the va patient advocate and discussed my issues with them. I was instructed to be seen at the Tucson va clinic instead.
Furious about this I removed myself from the phoenix va system and requested to be seen in Tucson. I had waited a week and was seen by another doctor. This doctor was more understanding and definitely puzzled by my symptoms but also thought my symptoms were muscular / skeletal and that i had some how torn my chest wall muscles. Up to this point I had done countless urine and blood tests for autoimmune diseases. Everything was negative and that ruled out most of the" not scary stuff". I had a ct scan done by this doctor and was told everything looked good and I needed a follow up scan in 3 months. After waiting the 3 months and fighting daily dizzy spells and nausea with radiating rib bone pain I do another c.t scan and with in a week I get a call from a pulmonologist saying they got permission to do a biopsy on a benign tumor found on me. This was news to me because up to this point I thought everything was in my head and that I had been imagining all the pains. I had no idea they found a tumor and had been watching it. I was told about lung nodules and that they were fine and stable. I went in for the biopsy of the tumor August 9th and was sedated. After waking up the doctor said she was able to remove it all and it was to be sent off for tests.
This same doctor called me and told me the pathology report. It is a carcinoid tumor. Cancer. In my left main bronchus. Right behind where I had all of my constant chest pain.
This cancer is pretty rare. It isn't related to smoking and women are more likely to get it than men. Also its most common in people over 60. I'm a 32 year old male so I guess I am just a little ahead of schedule.
Since I've had the tumor removed, I still have symptoms associate with cancer. Its called carcinoid syndrome. This cancer is most common on the liver and digestive tract first and then the lungs. I am still waiting for my full body scan to see where else the cancer is or isn't. I have been out of work for a couple of months and my wife has started working full time to support our family. I have 3 kids and my wife and myself. We live in and r.v. travel trailer and have been in it for 3 years because rent is cheaper than a home and we had plans to travel. With all of the medical issues we have decided it is better to be in a permanent house so we searched out an apartment that my wife can afford with no help from me just in case I'm down and out for a while. We are due to move in on the 10th of this month. In order to have made this happen we had to put off bills and so since I have become sick we have slowly and steadily fallen behind financially. i am looking into disability option but nothing is in the works as of yet.
On the 12th of September (also my 10 year anniversary with my wife) I have a pre-op c.t scan and I will be talking to a lung surgeon about removing my left lung because that is where the cancer was and they don't want it to come back if any cells were missed.
That is the gist of my story up to this point. I am staying home and trying to take care of our kids and myself while my wife does her best to support us. All while trying to mentally understand and cope with the very real health issues I have. Thank you in advance for your time and generosity.
Timothy and Tasha Szot and family
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