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Strudel Blog

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Nine Years

Posted by Strudel Jun 12, 2019

Although I am sure that 9 years quit sounds like a long time to many here, I can still remember 9 hours, 9 days, 9 weeks, etc. I can still remember the fear of doing this - and the uncertainty. After 40 years, it seemed almost impossible at first. But, I came here and hung on tight! I stayed close, I kept reading. I found the most remarkable community! I listened to the folks who came before me (thank you to all of those beautiful people!!) and learned from those struggling at the same time I was and continue to learn from those who have come here since. Because I was successful and felt overwhelming joy at the freedom - I became passionate about staying here and trying to encourage others. 


Not only am I forever grateful to this site and the wonderful people here for helping me to quit and stay quit - I am also grateful for advice I read here. As many know, I had a “low dose CT scan” on my lungs back in February. This was strictly a screening test - I had no symptoms. The scan led to a PET scan which then led to the discovery of cancer. I had the right lower lobe of my lung removed about 10 weeks ago. The really good news - it was found early enough - Stage 1 with no lymph node involvement. (I will need to continue to be scanned.) The other really good news - although I didn’t quit soon enough to prevent the cancer, I quit soon enough that after 9 years quit I was in good enough physical shape to have the surgery. That would not have been the case if I had still been smoking. 


I am doing fine since the surgery. Before I typically walked 3 miles every other day and did water aerobics 3 days a week. I am now back to 2 miles (I plan to soon move up to 3 miles again.) And last week - I went back to the pool! Since I do deep water exercise which involves wearing a flotation belt, I ran into a glitch. The belt, which must be worn tightly, turned out to be way too uncomfortable around my mid section because of surgery soreness. After that first day, I was discouraged - but I knew I would find a way! I decided to use a noodle! (You know those kid’s noodle toys for the pool...) By straddling that I can easily stay vertical in the water in order to do the workout. Yay! 


And - yay me for 9 years! Thanks to everyone here - you are all amazing and so important to my quit! 


Sharon (Smorgy’s) Obituary

Posted by Strudel May 26, 2019

EX 7 - Virginia Beach

Posted by Strudel May 25, 2019

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the EX gathering in Virginia Beach. EX 7 was wonderful! There were 21 EX’ers in attendance and 5 of those were first timers. We are always so happy to see first timers! The folks who came had quits ranging from about 5 months on up Giulia’s 13 years! 


There were also several guests in attendance - including our EX administrator - Mark, along with Dr. Amanda Graham. 

My sister, Chris, and I drove from North Carolina. (She lives in Denver, CO.) We arrived on Friday afternoon. We had dinner that night with most of those in attendance, although we didn’t actually see everyone until Saturday. 


On Saturday morning we all met in the hotel. I wrote an earlier blog about the theme - “Message In A Bottle”. We presented “Paper Plate Awards” to the first timers. SkyGirl invented that idea. Although she couldn’t be with us, she asked me to read a blog of hers to the group. We were all touched by her words and we all missed her more than I can say..... We also carried on another Sky tradition, started at EX 1 - “reading of the blogs”. We did that again with the first timers. Later everyone wrote a message and put it “in a bottle” and then we shared each other’s words of wisdom. We also shared some special gifts - beautiful handmade soap from Missy Mandolinrain, “NOPE” buttons from Barbara Barb102, cookies from Daniela Daniela-3-11-2016....and a souvenir small bottle and a special cupcake made by my neighbor. Hope I’m Not leaving anyone - there were so many things being shared! Laura, Michwoman wore special cat ears in honor of our dear Sharon (Smorgy) who passed away on Tuesday. Laura and Sharon wore special ears during the entire cruise last year for EX 6. 


Giulia wrote a special song for us to sing! “We’ve Been Working on Our Quittude” - to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”. It was perfect and she accompanied us on her guitar! We have a video of that - hopefully Mark can share that on the “EX 7 Weekend” group page. You will also find other blogs about EX 7 there. 


We all went out to dinner that night at Murphy’s Irish Pub - great time! On Sunday we did yet another Sky tradition - created at EX 5 - “The Great Balloon Toss” - we had a blast! There should be a video of that coming soon! 


The entire weekend was incredible! It is hard to describe how people who have met on the internet and often have little in common - can come together like this and become such great friends! 

Laura is working on the photo album. 

The following EX’ers were there:























We are currently in discussion about EX 8 - including having EX events in other parts of the country next year. Be sure to “stay tuned” - if there is a way you can attend some day - I promise you won’t regret it!! 


Theme of EX 7

Posted by Strudel May 22, 2019


I am still trying to catch up on “at home” things. However, I will write a blog about the experience of EX 7 in the next day or two. It was incredible! 

Since Jackie mentioned the theme - I thought I would explain a bit. Here is what I wrote about comparing the message in a bottle concept and our EX experience. (It also obviously fit with being at the beach!) 

I will be back soon with that blog! 

Message In A Bottle
On EX, when we write a blog, start a discussion, make a comment, or send a private message, it is similar to sending a message in a bottle.
We have no idea where it will end up or who will read person or many.
Because of our passion for helping people to quit, we are hoping to use the right words and to make a special connection.
Friends are made from total strangers.
We can make a powerful difference because of the special magic in a 
“message in a bottle”!

Good news

Posted by Strudel May 13, 2019

Today I met for the first time with the oncologist, following my surgery for lung cancer. It has been 7 weeks since surgery to remove my right lower lobe. (In case you missed my earlier blogs, I didn’t have any symptoms but went for a screening test called a “low dose CT scan” of the lungs. It indicated a suspicious nodule and a PET scan showed that is was cancer. This screening test is recommended for current or former smokers with more than 30 pack years. That would be the equivalent of 1 pack a day for 30 years - or 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc. I smoked for 40 years which obviously qualified. This test saved my life! And since I heard about it here - this site once again saved my life!)


I really liked the oncologist. He said that the cancer is Stage 1A and that I won’t need chemo or radiation! Hooray! I will need to have a scan every 6 months for 2 years. Then I can switch to one scan per year. Sounds good to me. He also wants me to participate in a 5K walk in the fall for the “Lung Cancer Initiative” here in NC. 


So - I had to share this great news! Thanks again for all of the prayers and support! 


See those attending EX 7 soon! 




Another update

Posted by Strudel Apr 26, 2019
The ultrasound sound of my thyroid showed that it is a “low risk” nodule - which is great news! I return in 6 - 12 months to recheck. (The nodule showed up just be chance with when I had the PET scan for the lung cancer.) So - I am thrilled with these results about the thyroid.
I continue to heal from the lung surgery. Thanks again everyone!  For those attending EX 7 - see you soon in VB! 
Take care, 

Post Surgery Update

Posted by Strudel Apr 16, 2019
Greetings friends! Thank you all for the love, support, and prayers! It has been 3 weeks since I had my surgery - here is an update: 
I met with the surgeon’s P.A. yesterday. She took out the sutures and we discussed various restrictions and the lifting of one....driving! Yay! So, I am driving again as of today. Still can’t lift though. I return to the surgeon next Thursday to further discuss things. He has referred me to an oncologist and I see him on May 13. That will be to follow things from here. (I was diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer and they removed my right lower lobe. I assume I will need to be followed in the future to make sure nothing else shows up in other areas of my lungs.) 
Today I saw the endocrinologist. He said the nodule in my thyroid (which lit up during the PET scan of lung) is most likely not cancer - but they will need to do further testing to rule it out. He also said that if it is cancer, it is not related to the lung cancer. And, it is very small. I will have an ultrasound of the thyroid and they will go from there. If those results indicate a higher chance of it being cancer, they will then do a biopsy. But, if the ultrasound doesn’t show an increased chance - then they will probably have me repeat the ultrasound in 6 - 12 months - and no biopsy at this point. 
So, a lot going on - but, I do feel better to now have met with the the endocrinologist. Thank you all again! 
I will once again mention the “Low Dose CT Scan” which led to all this. I feel that it saved my life - I most likely would not have known about this cancer until it was much more advanced and I actually had symptoms. And, since I heard about it here - this site has once again saved my life! 
Please do a search on here for “Low Dose CT Scan” to learn more and talk to your doctor if you think you would consider doing it. 
Thanks again for all of the love, prayers, and support!

EX 7 - Important Info

Posted by Strudel Apr 15, 2019

I have just sent an email to those attending EX 7 about making sure Best Western has all of the reservations made through the group process. They will be releasing the rooms in our block after tomorrow. I have already found several errors in the list they sent me. I have emailed the group sales woman and will call her tomorrow to follow up. PLEASE LET ME KNOW AFTER YOU CHECK THE EMAIL IF YOUR RESERVATION IS MISSING! Thanks! 


Another Update

Posted by Strudel Apr 9, 2019

Greetings dear friends. I have not been here as much lately. I hope to be back more often soon. 

My surgery for stage 1 lung cancer was 2 weeks ago. They removed my right lower lobe.  I am still in recovery mode...pretty sore. But, I plan to continue to recover and I plan to be at Virginia Beach! Thanks for your continued love, support, and prayers! 


Quick Note

Posted by Strudel Apr 4, 2019

I will write a longer update in the next few days. However, I wanted to let you all know that I am doing great following my surgery. I have been recovering at home since Monday. My body does feel like I was hit by a truck - but, just a small truck! 

More soon! 

Love you all, 



Beach trip before surgery

Posted by Strudel Mar 20, 2019

I am leaving tomorrow after going to my pre-op meeting at the hospital. I am going to the beach for the weekend - I am so excited to get away from all of this for a few days! Surgery will be on Tuesday. I will try to check back in here on Monday - but, I may not be here much this weekend and after Monday. I have asked Nancy - Youngatheart.7.4.12 - to let the group know how the surgery goes. (She should get an email from my sister and then she can pass on the info.) 

Thank you SO MUCH for all of the prayers, love, and support!! 


Update on lung cancer surgery

Posted by Strudel Mar 14, 2019
Please see my past few blogs if you aren’t aware of my situation. I met with the surgeon today - I really liked him. He thinks it is Stage 1 - but they will be checking lymph nodes to be sure. If it is in the nodes - more treatment will be needed. Looks like surgery on March 26. They will probably take the whole lobe - instead of just a section. That cuts risk of recurrence. (We have 5 lobes and since I am in good shape, he feels I can handle it.) He also said that if it is Stage 1, it is 80% curable. That wasn’t quite as optimistic as pulmonologist just saying “curable” - but it is still okay. I figure those statistics are looking at a very large group of people with lots of other health isssues and who may still be smoking. I don’t need toworry about that happening! 
He also said that the thyroid will often light up on PET without it being cancer - hope so! Will wait to deal with that until after taking care of the lung. 
Scary - yes, am I stressed - yes. Will I smoke - no way! 
I truly hope that I will be recovered in plenty of time to attend EX 7! 
Thanks for for all the love, support, and prayers!
And - please consider talking to your doctor about the Low Dose CT scan. 
I saw the pulmonologist today. (He was the one who called about the PET scan on Tuesday. He was handling cases for the first doctor I saw last week who is on vacation.)
I liked him. He is referring me to an endocrinologist for the thyroid nodule which also “lit up” on PET scan. It will need to be biopsied. (I see him in 3 weeks unless they get a cancellation. Don’t like waiting - but already have plenty to deal with in terms of the lung!) He feels that the 2 things are not related - which is actually a very good thing. It means that one cancer (if both are cancer) has not spread to the other area. It would be considered “two primary cancers” - rather than starting in one place and then mestastisizing to the other area. That would be bad! The PET scan did not show any other areas beyond the lung and thyroid. Yay! 
He is 90% sure that the lung growth is cancer. However, he said it is definitely “curable”. It is very small and has been found very early in a screening CT lung scan. (Please see my last few blogs about this if you haven’t already.) I can not stress enough about important I feel that test was for me. Lucky? YES!! 
I took a breathing test yesterday. My lung function tested out as good - which means I can have “direct surgery” - they can go in surgically, biopsy it, and then remove as much as needed to clear the cancer. It may be a just a small section of the growth and some surrounding tissue - or a larger area called a wedge. Again, the growth is small and it is fairly close to the edge of my lower right lobe. It is serious surgery - up to a week in the hospital - but he feels I am in good enough shape for the surgery. Thank God I quit almost 9 years ago - and thank God - and many folks here - that I had that screening test! I realize that there are “false positives” - but in my case this test has probably saved my life! He was so impressed that I had the test. 
So - although not the greatest news in terms of having cancer....hearing that it is curable is great. He wants me to be a part of a research study being done in my area to draw blood from people like me who have been diagnosed in the early stages of lung the hopes of eventually discovering commonalities in the blood to eventually develop a blood test to detect lung cancer! Loved the idea of helping others I said yes. 
He is going to consult with the other pulmonologist I met with last week. So - there will be 2 opinions which is good. If Dr. McQuaid agrees with the plan, they will refer me to a thoracic surgeon to do the surgery. 
I am doing okay....main problem is some sleeping trouble. But, the more I know about the plan, the better off I am. Thomas3.20.2010 - as I was leaving I asked if he had any suggestions for dealing with the stress of all of this - “mindful mediation” he said as he left the room! 
I truly hope and pray that this will not impact my attendance at EX 7! My sister Chris will be here to go with me, so if I can walk - she can drive both of us! 

PET Scan Results

Posted by Strudel Mar 5, 2019
I wrote an earlier blog about having a Low Dose Lung Scan three weeks ago - Low dose CT lung scan  - This is an update. 
I had the PET scan yesterday. The PET scan unfortunately showed that the lung nodule showed the kind of metabolic activity that increases the suspicion of lung cancer. There was also metabolic activity in the thyroid gland. I’m not sure how this fits together - if at all. They could be 2 unrelated things.
The good news is the doctor who called me (a second one in the same pulmonology office - first doctor who I saw last week is on vacation) said the same thing the first one did - the lung cancer, if that is what it is, has been found early and should be treatable. I think the next step will be to biopsy the lung nodule. And, I will be referred to an endocrinologist for the thyroid issue. The doctor who called wants to meet with me in person tomorrow or Thursday. He called late - so, he said I should hear from someone in the office in the morning to set up an appointment to see him. 
I am processing all of this. I actually feel better at least knowing part of what I am facing. (The thyroid thing is a sucker punch - what!!?) But, hopefully I will find out more in the next few days. I will keep you posted. Thank you all for the love and support! I may become another “poster child” for the benefits of having this early screening! 

EX 7 Update!

Posted by Strudel Feb 28, 2019

We are planning an informal EX Reunion/Gathering May 16 - 20 (you can come for one or more days) in Virginia Beach. I just sent everyone who has signed up an email with a request for some info. I am using the list of emails from folks who have indicated they are coming.

Please let me know if you plan to come to EX 7 in May - but did not receive the email. Send me a PM and ask me to add your email address. I am hoping I have everyone - but want to make sure! 

If you are still thinking about it - please give it more consideration! I promise you will have a wonderful time! Send me a PM on here to be added to the list!