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Shelly B

I lost my grandfather to lung cancer a couple of months after I became a respiratory therapist. I know his lung cancer was most likely caused from many years of smoking cigarettes. In my 25 years as a respiratory therapist, I have cared for many patients who suffer from lung disease or lung cancer. Losing my grandfather to lung cancer has been my motivation to make a difference in the patients I have taken care of throughout my career.

The good news is we have come a long way since I began my career 25 years ago with diagnosing lung cancer. We now have nonsurgical methods to diagnose lung cancer in the early stages. These methods are very safe with little to no side effects unlike surgery. My current role as a hospital department director for respiratory care has allowed me the opportunities to bring these new procedures to our hospital. The diagnosis of lung cancer can sound devastating for a person to hear but as a healthcare provider it is rewarding to see how an early diagnosis changes a person's chance to survive and beat their cancer. We routinely see how using our new procedures for diagnosing lung cancer has saved lives. It also reduces the amount of chemotherapy and/or radiation a person has to endure for their treatment.

Another way my profession can make a difference in the battle with lung cancer and lung disease is to educate our patients and the community on the hazards of tobacco use. I work with some wonderful and dedicated staff that have the same mission as I do in helping those who use tobacco overcome their addiction. We have all been trained to be Tobacco Treatment Specialists so that we can partner with our patients in helping them overcome their addiction. We have all found it rewarding to be able to celebrate with our patients when they overcome and win their tobacco addiction.

The mission to change the lives of people who suffer from lung cancer and lung disease is not just a professional mission for me it is personal. It is my desire to find others who share my mission so we can change and save lives for those families who are affected by lung cancer and lung disease.

First published: January 25, 2016

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