Thanksgiving carries a different meaning for lung cancer survivor

Giving thanks for second chances
Lung Cancer survivor thankful for second chances
Posted at 3:30 AM, Nov 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 12:12:59-05

Ann Lege said she was living her best life.

Her grandson had just started school and she would be picking him up in the afternoon. He was five at the time and the light of her life.

Then she started to feel bad.

"I had a sinus infection, so they put me on antibiotics, I had a horrible cough, they said if you're not feeling better in two weeks come back," Lege said. "In two weeks, I was feeling worse and went back and they gave me a steroid shot. I went to Walmart and couldn't walk across Walmart, and I knew something was wrong."

It was that intuition that led her to make an appointment with her doctor.

"I finally get in to see my doctor and she wants to do some tests, chest x-ray, thyroid and blood work," Lege said. "She's out of the country the next day and gets the office to call me and tell me that there is something in my lung. I just thought it was an infection."

It was not an infection, Lege had lung cancer.

Living life to the fullest

Surgery was her next option.

"My surgeon told me that this was a really serious surgery and that I could die," Lege said. "I told him that I could die the other way, just book me a room."

Ann pulled through the surgery.

She said it was one of the most painful experiences she ever had to go through.

"It was uncomfortable, it was painful," Ann said. "I had a scar all the way from the top of my shoulder blade to my side."

The day before Thanksgiving she was able to go home.

"Everything focuses around Thanksgiving," Lege said. "I've been given so many second chances in life. Twice with cancer. I think that's a pretty good second chance to start over."

Lege said she never smoked; her parents did.

Surviving lung cancer

She said there may have been other factors, but Lege said they could never pinpoint the cause of the cancer she just knows that she is lucky.

"My tumor was 3.1 centimeters, which I think is huge because it's over an inch, for lung cancer that is small," Lege said. "The chances of having caught it in time were unbelievable that I found out that I had it."

Dr. Elias Moussaly, a Hematology & Oncology Specialist with Our Lady of Lourdes JD Moncus Cancer Center said, because Ann was not a smoker, her constant coughing was concerning to her and that is why she sought help. For smokers, he said, that cough may not raise any red flags.

"Most patients with lung cancer, because they are smokers, have COPD and cough is one of the main symptoms," Moussaly said. "A lot of the patients have coughed all of their lives--so basically if the change in the pattern of the cough or coughing up blood should be alarming signs. That's why most people brush off the cough as sinuses or bronchitis."

As for Lege, she is entering year three of being cancer-free and will continue to live her best life and being thankful for the time she has been given.

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