Reading your stories here and on the message board has been extremely helpful to me. My father has been recently diagnosed with thymic carcinoma (August 2005), so I want to share his story.
My father, Marc, is a 69 year old man who is more than a bit overweight. He optimistically says that at least this disease might help him trim down.
Dad had a persistent cough for several months when he finally agreed to go see a doctor about it. His chest x-ray was a bit cloudy, so his primary care physician sent him for a CT scan as well. The CT scan showed a large mediastinal mass as well as a large mass on the kidney.
A needle biopsy was done on the kidney; the pathology report was renal cell carcinoma. A mediastinoscopy and a bronchoscopy were inconclusive. He had a PET scan, and a few weeks later he had a more invasive biopsy where the surgeon went in through his chest. The diagnosis was thymic carcinoma. The surgeon said the tumor was not operable, it was too invasive in the heart and lung. (Note: It took almost 2 weeks for us to get the results from the biopsy. Needless to say we were pretty frantic by then. But I truly think the pathologist just wasn’t quite sure about the tumor and had to do his own research.)
I immediately started researching this cancer and approaches to treating it. After speaking to Dad’s local oncologist, we scheduled appointments with Dr. Loehrer (oncologist) and Dr. Kessler (thoracic surgeon) and Indiana University. Dr. Kessler agreed that the tumor was not operable at this point. Dr. Loehrer felt that chemo was the best option and that he would consult with Dad’s local oncologist. They, the local thoracic surgeon, the oncologist, and urologist felt that the chemo should occur NOW. Then Dad would have laporascopic surgery to take care of the kidney tumor.
Dad began chemo 8/30. He is receiving Taxol and Carboplatin once every three weeks. He has had little reaction to the first treatment, just a little nausea the first three days. We are praying his treatments will be effective and continue to be easy on him.
He began having trouble with his voice after the bronchoscopy and mediastinoscopy, which we attributed to the procedures. After some time the problem did not clear up. Dr. Loehrer suggested he see an ENT, which he has done. The ENT was puzzled that the problem was on the left when Dad’s tumor and the procedures were on the right. So he’s in the process of another CT scan and an MRI.
Dad attributes this cancer to some radiation treatments he had as a child. He had some hearing loss (from measles), so the clinic convinced his mother to let him have a series of radiation treatments to shrink his adenoids. These treatments consisted of rods put up his nose. He isn’t sure of the number of treatments, but remembers a minimum of six. The ironic thing is that he’d already had his adenoids removed when he had his tonsils out. Because of this history, his thyroid had been monitored and biopsied about a year ago.
Anyone who would like to be in touch can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa (the daughter)