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Anyone out there with Thymoma/Thymic Carcinoma

Cancer | Last Active: Sep 3, 2023 | Replies (136)

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I read through your entire chain, and quite a story. I was diagnosed with stage 2B thymoma about a year ago (12/15). I had an intense episode of pain in my left shoulder in September 2013, and while I thought it was a rotator cuff tear, it was diagnosed as a rare autoimmune condition known as Parsonage Turner Syndrome (PTS). My symptoms matched almost identically with intense pain, followed a week letter by a complete resolution of pain, but a loss of 90% of the motor strength in my left arm. I spent two years in PT regaining function and strength, and then the pain returned. This time it was clear there was a cuff tear, but it was not caused by trauma, but rather the tendon was pulling apart due to the muscle imbalance caused by the PTS. The top ortho surgeons would not operate noting that the location of the tear and the location of the pain did not correlate. Finally I found a surgeon to operate, though he warned it could be unsuccessful. I had to do something to alleviate what had become debilitating pain. That was at the end of 11/15. I then went for a pre-op clearance at my primary care doctor, who administered an EKG. He came in to state there was an anomoly, and ordered an echo cardiogram the next day. The result was that I needed immediate aortal valve replacement surgery. Penn Hospital's chief of thoracic surgery then examined me, and basically would not let me leave the hospital, noting that he didn't give me two weeks to live with this heart condition. Before I knew it surgery was scheduled, and just before the surgery they performed a CT scan of my chest. The doctor noted that the thymus appeared a bit inflamed, but advised this happens constantly. The surgery went well, and in the process he removed my thymus. A week later, while doing very well in my recovery, the surgeon visited me with an oncologist, and they noted this was the first time in 30 years that the thymus came back positive for cancer, in this case stage 2 thymoma. I went through 7 solid weeks of proton therapy treatments, which were quite debilitating after heart surgery, but it appears successful. The irony is that had my shoulder not hurt so much, I would never have found out about my heart issue. That heart problem should have been tracked my entire life, and the need for the valve replacement was inevitable. But had I been properly checked over the years, the surgery would probably have occurred a couple of years earlier, in which case they would have missed the cancer. As you've come to learn, once this type of cancer becomes symptomatic, the issues become very complex. Now what they're studying is whether the PTS itself was a manifestation of the thymoma, which is frequently linked to rare autoimmune disorders. A year later, and thankfully I am in terrific health. I went from 225 pounds to 163 pounds during this ordeal (and mind you the 225 was with 13% bodyfat). I regained about 40 pounds very carefully and have worked out like a fiend to get in the best shape possible. Now I attend the proton treatment alumni functions at Penn to try to give reassurance to patients entering treatment. Statistically, I really should have won millions in a lottery, but I'll take my health thanks.

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Replies to "I read through your entire chain, and quite a story. I was diagnosed with stage 2B..."

Hi @andylevine,
I'm re-reading your post here after seeing your messages in the Parsonage Turner Syndrome discussion. What a sequence of events that led to the finding of thymoma cancer. Did treatment end with the removal of the thymus or did you have other treatments as well? Symptoms?

I had 7 weeks of proton treatments but now have semi annual scans. The shoulder pain resolved shortly after the tumor was removed. I still have a torn rotator, but it's not painful anymore. I have small residual effects from PTS, and you can still see muscle denervation in my infraspinatus.