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Shirley T

To start, I was a participant in the NLST screening trials to see if chest X-ray or CT scan was a better choice for lung cancer screening. I was in the X-ray section.

My partner of 41 years was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in Nov/Dec 2014. She had no symptoms except for a back ache that felt like stress. After radiation and chemo, she passed away July 24, 2015. As her partner and caregiver, she encouraged me to get screened for lung cancer during my annual physical. That screening showed a mass in the upper lobe of my right lung. A PET scan was negative for cancer, but my doctor and I decided on a biopsy. This procedure verified non-small cell adenocarcinoma, the same cancer as my partner. Both my partner and I had quit smoking more than 25 years ago, and thought we were at low risk for lung cancer. We learned that even nonsmokers can contract non-small cell adenocarcinoma of the lung. My cancer was detected early enough, it hadn't metastasized.

Today I am one month post-surgery for removal of my right upper lobe and considered cured. My doctors will follow me for 5 years. If I hadn't got that CT scan to screen for lung cancer, I wouldn't have known and possibly would be ignorant of the fact that I had cancer and would probably be dead in 5 years.

First published: February 10, 2016

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