Lung cancer cells

Did I mention how important it is to have tissue samples, that is, some of the actual cancer cells from your body, for examination and testing?

For my first appointment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering back in January 2013, I was told to bring all my images (CT scans, X rays, PET scan) on disk, and a “slide.” I almost understood about the images: I brought them on disk, but did not realize I should also bring the accompanying radiologist reports. I completely did not understand about the “slide,” and neither did the nice people in the medical records office at my community hospital.

I tried to do what I was told. I asked for a “slide.” The nice people in the medical records office searched, and eventually produced an electronic file with pictures of my cancer cells and a written description of them. I dutifully packed it up with all my medical records and images, and brought it along to New York.


What they meant by a “slide” was an actual, physical, glass slide WITH SOME OF MY CANCER CELLS ON IT. Not an electronic representation, but ACTUAL CANCER CELLS. FROM MY LUNGS.

I never would have guessed. It wouldn’t have even occurred to me that I could just pick up a glass slide with some cancer cells on it, and take it to New York on the train.

Sometimes you think you understand what they’re saying, and they think you understand what they’re saying, but it’s actually going right over your head.

About Irene Elizabeth (Beth!) Stroud

Queer suburban mom, graduate student, lung cancer survivor, card-carrying United Methodist.
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