Waiting on pathology…

Living every day to the fullest

The day before my scheduled VATS (video-assisted thoracic surgery) to remove three nodules that were suspected of being lung cancer went smoothly. 7AM I found myself on the 8th floor for a fasting blood draw and vitals. Then on to another floor for pulmonary testing to determine my lung capacity prior to surgery. The technician shared surprisingly, “Your lungs tested great. You have perfect lung capacity.” Check.

Then on to the surgeons office for a preoperative consult. The nurse who schedules surgery explained where to report, what would happen and how the day would go. The surgeon came in to give final instructions. He explained he would be making about a two inch incision between my ribs where the camera would be inserted. Then he would make smaller incisions for the instruments. He would remove three wedges of my left lung. They would test the frozen samples right there in the operating room. Then post surgery, from recovery I would be taken to a room where they would monitor me to be certain the lung remained re-inflated. I would have oxygen and would be uncomfortable. I would have a chest tube to drain the fluids from surgery from the lung and as soon as that subsided it would be removed. The entire hospital stay would be about three days.

Everything went exactly as described. Post surgery, Doctor shared with Tommy my tumors were positive for adenocarcinoma (cancer)….we would need to wait to see what type of cancer from the pathology report. This would take several days because the tissue would need to be grown on slides called “stains” . But, he felt 90% it was lung cancer. This would be highly treatable in this early stage. They also removed some lymph nodes for testing.

Everything unfolded as explained. The surgery ran about two and a half hours, as Tommy waited for me patiently in the same waiting room he had waited four years before for 9.5 hours during the whipple procedure. Once I had spent an hour in recovery, I was moved to a room on the 7th floor. Tommy joined me.

The chest tube caused far more discomfort than I had anticipated. Dr. explained he had to go far into the top of my left lobe to get one of the wedges and could have caused some nerve damage. I was not able to sit upright or get out of the bed for about 24 hours. But, once the drainage subsided, the tube was removed and I felt immediate relief. I was sore, but no longer had shooting pain when I moved.

Thursday I was released from the hospital and sent home to await the pathology report that all of my doctors agreed would probably reveal the tumors were lung cancer. They thru out a 90% figure which gave us hope.

It was the fourth of July weekend, and my surgeon said sometimes he might get a call on Friday at 4PM with results. Not surprisingly Friday came and went and no phone call. But, Saturday around 1:30 in the afternoon he called. “Is your husband home?” “Yes, let me get to him and put us all on speaker.” I said as I rushed up the stairs to his “man cave” where he was watching golf.

This phone conversation was a complete shock to Tommy as the Dr. shared the results of the pathology report….”the tissue is consistent with pancreas cancer.” The doctor was obviously shocked. We just didn’t see this coming he said. The behavior and growth of these nodes made us believe they were lung cancer. We ended the conversation with “we will discuss this further next week.”

Tommy hung up the phone in total disbelief. “Why would they give us such huge odds and then come back with this report?”

We agreed to reach out to my pancreas cancer surgeon as I texted him to please call me. He called after a short time having called my oncologist and thoracic surgeon to confer.

Basically they all were surprised with this result. Further testing and discussion will be forthcoming. We will determine next steps and a plan will be in place within a couple of weeks.

Personally, I held a small doubt that it was lung cancer. Perhaps out of fear? Perhaps preparing for the worst so I could be joyful in the lung cancer report. I believe that God, not my surgeon or my oncologist or the pathologists in the lab are in control. Nothing about this cancer from May, 2014 has been typical. So why should A-typical results now be such a shock?

Plus, this energizes me even more to shout it from the rooftops…..”This mysterious cancer needs our attention.”

July 11th fifteen Zitiello’s will board a flight to Italy were we plan to have the time of our lives, just as we did in July 2015 after completion of my surgery and treatment. We are not going to let this news engulf us or lead us to the chair in a lump.

God knows exactly how this will all turn out. I plan to allow Him to let it unfold exactly as He wants it. And, hopefully we will all emerge prepared and more informed and more hopeful. Nothing about my pancreas cancer has been typical so far….so why would it be now?

Please pray for me and more importantly for my family to have the courage to continue to battle. We firmly believe that is why I am still here. God has more work for me to do. I will lean on Psalm 91 to bring me thru, nestled under His wing feathers is where I will remain.

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  1. I don’t know anyone like you..and you can handle this better than anyone else. I’m just sorry you have to. So glad your reaction has always been to celebrate life first and handle the “issues” later. Bless you and hugs. Can’t wait for pics of Zitellos in Italy..celebrating life!

  2. Judi my prayers are with you and your family. You are the most amazing person I know. Reading your journey and the faith you have should be an inspiration to everyone, I truly feel you are gods messenger and you have more work to do and he knows that🙏 Enjoy your vacation to the fullest.

  3. Judi, your life and your family are a testimony to God’s love for you and your faith in Him. Tommy, you and all of your loved ones are in our prayers. Don and I are standing in faith with you for God’s perfect will in your life and in the lives of each of your family members. How wonderful that you are taking a family trip to Italy ln a few days. I’m sure you have considered that you will be close to Medjugorje and not too far from Lourdes. May miracles be poured out on you like rivers of living water in the matchless name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth!

  4. I agree with your friend Sheila. No one else could face this roller coaster ride with such faith in God’s will. Have a wonderful time with your family! I know you appreciate and treasure every day, every moment. I am privileged to know you, Judi.

  5. My thoughts and prayers are with you. PS.91 is my go to and strength building scripture. Claiming it with you and for you.
    Love and prayers

  6. Judi,
    I think of you often. Be assured I am praying with all my heart for you and your family. I love you! Michelle

  7. Judy, My prayers will continue to be with you and the whole family, my cousin’s daughter is going through a similar situation and we have all been praying and keeping the two of you in our prayers. My mother is up in Akron at the ELMS keeping you in their prayers. All the sisters have been rooting for the two of you.

    Love & Prayers and GOD BLESS – Slainte


  8. Judi, your strength, faith and courage will get you through this so called” bump in the road” that you
    Mention. Have a wonderful vacation with your loving family and when you return there will be
    A plan of treatment.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family through this shocking news, and I will
    Continue to pray to God for a miracle of healing.
    Love you and your family so much,

  9. My sweet friend..I’m so sorry for the shocking news but I believe you’re amazing faith in GOD and you’re amazing family and friends will keep you strong as you move forward to fight this! Enjoy your vacation and special time with your family ❤️ Love you Georgia

  10. Judith, your attitude and faith will take you farther then any doctor will. I sit here praying that God will hold you and your family tight during all of this. Have a wonderful time in Italy, having your family with you is the best medicine. Prayers for you and your beautiful family.

  11. Judi, thank you for continuing to share your life’s journey. Through all your battles and obstacles, you continue to praise and glorify God. You are God’s gift to each of us that know you- a true inspiration. Continued Prayers as you continue your battle. Live, Laugh, and Love each day as you have always done.

  12. Judi,
    Sending love and prayers to you and your fabulous family 15 as you travel. Thank you for sharing the continuing steps in your journey. You inspire me to enjoy every precious moment, one day at a time. As Auntie Mame proclaimed, “Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” Look out Italy, here come the Zitellos!!!!



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