Posted May 2012
My husband Allan, age 54, went for a routine physical in February 2012. He hadn’t had one for 7 years. They asked him if he wanted a chest xray? Luckily he said yes. (His father had passed away in 2008 from lung cancer). The chest xray showed a “mass in his chest.” Then MRI and CAT scans showed a lime sized growth in the thymus region.
I researched a thoracic surgeon in Orlando where we live and luckily found Dr Luis Herrera at MD Anderson. I chose him because of his high ratings and because he seemed up to speed on noninvasive techniques. Dr Herrera said the mass appeared to be a stage 1 thymoma, and well encapsulated, but we needed a biopsy to be sure. (We spent 9 hours in the hospital for the biopsy due to a slight lung collapse). The biopsy results were “inconclusive”, but I believe it ruled out lymphoma at least.
Dr Herrera had prepared us that Allan would need surgery to take it out regardless. He explained very clearly all the possibilities and we felt very comfortable with him and his staff the whole way through. He performed robotic surgery on April 19th. Three incisions on his right side, one about 4-5 inches where they pulled out the thymoma, and the other two much smaller. Dr Herrera said he may need to do a sternotomy once he was inside and had a better look. but we were lucky and all went well without a sternotomy, the thymoma was removed (surgery took about 2 hours) and wasn’t attached to anything else. Allan checked out of the hospital 24 hours after the surgery. They tested the mass and about 5 days later we found out it was a stage 1 thymoma for sure, and it looked like he had gotten all of it out, and no radiation or chemo would be necessary, only CAT scans every 6 months for 5 years.
Allan had no real symptoms of the thymoma, just a prolonged cough after his last cold 6 months prior.
It was a scary time researching throughout each stage of this process and I found other’s posts on the thymic yahoo group and thymicstories.com very comforting. We are blessed that our story turned out positively and pray for those who have been having a much harder time.
I wanted to give some encouragement to those who are newly diagnosed and hope that this report helps.