Screenings and Second Opinions for a Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Iris Goldenberg shares her story

Photo of Iris Goldenberg

Courtesy of Iris Goldenberg

Meet the Author

Iris Goldenberg is a lung cancer patient receiving treatment at Lenox Hill Hospital.

In 2018, I came home from a hairdresser appointment feeling very sick. I had a fever and chills, and I knew something was wrong. My husband took me to the hospital, where they did scans and found a nodule on my lung.

I was told that the tumor on my lung was inoperable and that they couldn’t even take a biopsy because of the location of the nodule.

I was devastated by the news of my diagnosis and that they couldn’t do a biopsy to learn more. I felt condemned.

I was devastated by the news of my diagnosis...I felt condemned.

Fortunately, my daughter-in-law connected me with the doctors at Lenox Hill Hospital at Northwell Health in New York City, where they were able to do a biopsy. I first met Dr. Raoof, a pulmonologist there, who was very soothing and calming. He made me feel more comfortable because I was scared to death. He promised me that we would get through this together as a team no matter what the results were.

I’m very grateful that I decided to get a second opinion so I could get the biopsy and the treatment I needed at Lenox Hill. The doctors there gave me hope that things could improve.

The biopsy showed precancerous cells, so I was sent to Dr. Lazzaro, a thoracic surgeon there, who was also very comforting. In 2018, he performed a lobectomy on my right lung. It seemed successful, and I continued to get follow-up scans every six months after the surgery.

I’m very grateful that I decided to get a second opinion.

Unfortunately, three years after the surgery in 2018, they found another lesion in the same lung. So I had another surgery in March of 2021.

They found another lesion in my most recent scan, but this time in my left lung. We are deciding the next steps now, which might include radiation. I’m frightened, and I know my body is fighting against me. But I also know that my doctors will do whatever they can with the options they have. I’m very grateful to the doctors at Lenox Hill.

Right now, I'd like to run away. I honestly try not to think about it and just live in the moment. My husband and I run errands and get out of the house just to preoccupy me. That way, you don’t focus on yourself and the diagnosis.

I’m very lucky to have such a strong support system in my family. I have a husband, two children, and three grandchildren that I want to take care of, so I don't want to go anywhere. One of my grandchildren is getting married this June (2022), and I want to be there.

The support system is very important. My husband has been with me through everything. We just celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary, so I think I'll keep him around.

My fortune in all of this was that I knew I didn’t feel right. I listened to my body.

My fortune in all of this was that I knew I didn’t feel right. I listened to my body. I recommend that people have checks periodically, especially if you’re a previous smoker. Request a chest X-ray and ask for the care that you need. Getting second opinions is really important and can make a huge difference.

While I’m not at the best place in my journey right now, I hope my story can be helpful to others out there facing lung cancer.

A Word From Verywell

If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer and you are struggling with your diagnosis, there are support groups and resources available. Talking to others who are going through the same experience can be helpful and comforting. The American Cancer Society and American Lung Association can help you find local or online chapters. Verywell Health has a list of lung cancer support groups and communities you can check out.