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Stephen T.

My name is Steve Tong a native and long term resident of Louisville, Kentucky. In the latter part of 2014, my mother Betty suggested that I participate in a test she had recently seen in Today's Woman magazine that she consistently read. The test was designed for those who were my age and had been smokers; a test that would identify any tumors associated with lung disease. Having begun smoked since my early years upon entering the military I knew that one day I had planned to quit and, let's face it, I had no symptoms thereby encouraging me to participate in such tests.

My mother and my wife Sarah continued to suggest I undergo the test known as CT scanning, however, I was very busy with my career and traveled often making it difficult to take time out for something I felt to have little value. It was on a Friday and the following Monday I had flight reservations traveling to Texas on business. My wife told me that afternoon that she was able to get an appointment for me to take the CT scan which would occur on Sunday at the local cancer center thereby allowing for me to have completed before my next travels. Reluctantly, I accepted and the two of us arrived at the Cancer Center that Sunday.

After having taken the CT, which was a very quick, noninvasive screening, the nurse assistant on staff informed my wife and I that she wanted for the oncologist, who was on duty at the time, to glance at the results. Minutes later we were gathered in the medical examiners room and it was at that time when we were told it appeared as if the test revealed I had lung cancer. The most difficult part for me was that it was cancer in both lungs, independent of each other. It was suggested at that time I remain home refraining from travel and undergo additional tests to include having a PET scan which in fact I did a short time later.

Immediately, I was scheduled for surgery on my right lung during which time the top lobe was removed as well as some lymph nodes. Approximately two months later, enough time for my body to stabilize I had surgery on my left lung again removing a portion of my lung and some lymph nodes. After the healing process and several weeks later I went back and continue to have a CT scan performed on a routine basis. Today, I am fortunately cancer free and feel amazingly blessed to have had such early detection of this terrible disease. I wrote Cathy Zion, publisher of Today's Woman, a message thanking her for the most precious Christmas present one could ever hope for and that is the article that allowed me to have been diagnosed at such an early stage.

Although smokers are very susceptible to cancer, non-smokers have been diagnosed with the disease, as well. There are now tests available for early detection and had it not been for the CT scan I may have been at a late stage when the cancer was found. We all need clean air and healthy environments as well as education and support that of which my family and I received with open arms from the American Lung Association and its staff. I have volunteered to speak and will continue speaking to raise awareness on behalf of early detection, long term cures and ultimately cleaner air and environments for all.

First published: November 15, 2017

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