Today brought a fair amount of new information and reassurance, as well as a new treatment for my cough.
My medical oncologist called this morning and said that after going over all my scans both before and after surgery, he and the pulmonologist concur. My cough is caused by atelectasis (several collapsed spots in my lung) that occurred during my surgery. In addition to my using the spirometer several times a day, he prescribed albuterol (an inhaled bronchodilator often used by asthmatics). He said it will help suppress the cough so I can take the deep breaths I need to take with the spirometer.
I’m to report my progress to him in two weeks. I hope that means he hopes/expects to see noticeable progress by then. Cuz I’m gettin’ really tired of this cough.
Then this afternoon after my radiation treatment I asked the radiation oncologist specifically about what sort of damage my lung might sustain from the radiation and how it would be treated if it occurred. She said most breast cancer patients get the same amount of radiation to their lung(s) that I’m getting. And in only about 1% of cases does it result in any damage. That damage would probably show up as a cough 4 to 6 months after radiation ends. The usual treatment is about 20 days of corticosteroids or, in lieu of that, an aspirin-like drug. (I’m leery of steroids because they might exacerbate my glaucoma.)
Sounds like the likelihood of lung damage from the radiation treatments is really low. That’s a huge relief. The last thing I need is more lung problems resulting in more coughing.
Meanwhile, I hope the albuterol and spirometer will finally end this cough of more than three months. Then I can start my Herceptin treatment. And wouldn’t you know, cough is one of its possible side effects.