It takes speed

At age 67, nearly 37 years of smoking had finally caught up with me. A routine CT scan before minor surgery found an orange-sized mass growing in my right lung. Since I had quit smoking in 2002, and I felt fine, I was shocked when I heard the diagnosis. Because there were no symptoms, I was extremely lucky to find my cancer when I did. Early detection and a ready-to-go-team at Community’s Lung Nodule Program helped me get the jump on my fast-moving foe.

Up until my diagnosis, I never had any major health problems, so I didn’t go see a doctor much. Lucky for me, I have a sister who nagged me about my raspy voice, which then led to the deviated septum and CT scan. After first expressing disbelief that I had cancer, I did what I always do in difficult situations; I raised my hands and said, “Dear Lord, I’m in your hands. Whatever will be, will be.”

A pain free treatment

My cancer treatment felt truly miraculous. After a biopsy to find out whether the mass in my lung was indeed cancerous, I was sent to CyberKnife, a laser surgery system that involves no incisions. They fitted me with a suit when I laid down on the table, and then put on smooth jazz music. All I had to do was lay exactly a certain way for a while for the five days of treatments, which were completely painless.

A few weeks after my treatments, I went to see my radiation oncologist, Dr. William Silveira, where he told me I could officially call myself a cancer survivor, and that there was no evidence left of cancer. I was absolutely amazed. On top of feeling zero pain during my treatment, I never felt sick. Most importantly, I never had to stop any of the outdoor activities I enjoy, like fishing, camping, and doing my own lawn. I felt so blessed.

Quick resolution

Within a week, specialists at Community’s Lung Nodule Program biopsied my tumor, made the diagnosis, and scheduled a series of painless CyberKnife radiation treatments. Within six months, my tumor was gone and my oncologist declared me a “cancer survivor”.

UCSF and Community started the Lung Nodule Program in 2009 to speed up diagnoses and treatments. Using techniques and technology proven at the nation’s leading cancer centers, they can catch lung disease sooner, when it’s much more curable.

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