Home » Dad, 45, thought he had a pinched nerve in his neck. A rare cancer was to blame

Dad, 45, thought he had a pinched nerve in his neck. A rare cancer was to blame

by UNN Feed

Last summer Len Barchanowicz, 45, experienced sharp pangs in his neck that felt like a pinched nerve. After about a week, his symptoms intensified and he experienced chest pain and trouble breathing normally.

“He was telling me, ‘Oh my neck is really hurting me,’” wife Lauren Barchanowicz, 38, of Finleyville, Pennsylvania, tells TODAY.com. “I’m like, ‘I think you should probably get it checked out.’”

The couple visited the emergency room where doctors found an orange-sized mass in his chest. Len Barchanowicz had a thymoma, a type of cancer of the thymus.  

“I thought I was a dead guy, honestly. Even how she presented it to me because she said she couldn’t tell if it was attached to my aorta,” Len Barchanowicz tells TODAY.com. “I thought honestly I was going in for an emergency surgery.”

Neck pain reveals underlying problem

As a mailman in the Pittsburgh area, Len Barchanowicz spends a lot of his time walking. When he began experienced stinging pain in his neck he wondered if he somehow pinched a nerve. Then on a humid August day, he felt like he couldn’t breathe easily.   

“I started having almost like chest pains, but not heart related but above where your heart would be,” Len Barchanowicz says.

At first, he attributed that to the weather, but Lauren Barchanowicz, a nurse, worried something more serious was occurring. She examined him and didn’t think he was having a heart attack. Still, it felt concerning.

“He’s like, ‘Oh it’s getting better,’” Lauren Barchanowicz says. “I’m like, ‘I don’t know. I think you should probably get checked out.’”

At the emergency room, it soon became clear something serious was occurring as doctors ran a slew of tests on him.

“I thought maybe they found like a clog or something was going on heart related,” he says.

While an X-ray didn’t show anything, a doctor had a hunch that something else was occurring and ordered a CT scan with contrast. That test revealed an…

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