Charles' Cancer Journey
"Life is unpredictable. I never would have thought that a CT scan as a result of emergency gallbladder surgery would have revealed a suspicious spot on my lung – cancer.”
Charles, a 77-year-old from Lenexa, Kansas had emergency gallbladder surgery on Christmas Eve 2014. After the surgery, his physician noticed a suspicious spot on his lung during a routine CT scan. Charles, who never smoked and had been in good health, was sent home with three months of blood thinner, as the spots were thought to be a blood clot. When the spots did not go away, Charles was sent by his primary care physician to Daniel Balmaceda, MD, pulmonologist at Overland Park Regional Medical Center where a biopsy was recommended which determined the spot to be adenocarcinoma of the lung.
“My wife and I could not believe what had happened so quickly; we both cried. At that very moment our lives turned upside down. I was not a smoker. I exercised most days and kept my weight in proportion to my height. We could not believe that I had cancer.”
When Charles was told the results of his biopsy, and that he indeed did have cancer, a nurse navigator specializing in thoracic oncology was by his side to help him navigate the cancer treatment ahead, including the referrals to Dr. Stilwill, a medical oncologist and Dr. Koffman, a radiation oncologist, at Menorah Medical Center, a Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HCA Midwest facility in Overland Park, Kansas.
After the diagnosis, Charles decided to set up a second opinion appointment at another leading hospital in the region, a move his navigator, Erin, encouraged. She also explained to Charles that Menorah Medical Center is part of Sarah Cannon, the cancer institute of HCA, and that he would have access to the best care and treatment options right in his home hospital. Charles chose to stay at Menorah. Prior to his first medical oncologist appointment, he received a call from Erin who stated that perhaps his lung cancer, which was first believed to be Stage IV, might be at a lesser stage and treatable with radiation.
Charles had three treatments of Cyberknife stereotactic radiation, a non-invasive alternative to surgery that pinpoints cancer with high-intensity radiation, under the care of Dr. Koffman and there is now no evidence of active cancer. He visits his physicians regularly to monitor for recurrent or progressive disease.
Charles is glad to be back in his routine and continues to substitute teach children with special needs at the high school level. He also enjoys traveling to Florida, where he and his family enjoy their vacation home.
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