Pay attention - this could save your life
My lung abnormalities were discovered on a low-dose CT scan. If you have a history of smoking, you need to get this scan. If you have loved ones who smoked or still do, or are or have been exposed to secondhand smoke, they need this scan. Good news – screenings are low-cost or free.
I knew my test results were pretty serious because my primary physician immediately referred me to a pulmonologist in the Beebe system. My tumor was a 1.3-centimeter spiculated nodule in the top lobe of my right lung. There was also an enlarged lymph node in the middle of my chest.
When I got this news, I was alone, and would be alone for the next several weeks. My wife and I were in the midst of moving from Austin to our new house in Lewes. Peg was there packing our belongings and preparing our home for sale.
On April 3, I was at Beebe Pulmonary Associates’ offices on Savannah Road. My friend Carol had agreed to take notes and ask questions if I lost my focus. I quickly learned to never attend any medical consultation by myself, and that applies to anyone. You can’t listen, understand, process and respond – much less make a serious decision – on the spot by yourself.
We were escorted to the office of Dr. Sevak Keshishyan, aka “Dr. K,” and he spent the next 45 minutes with us. He is board certified in pulmonary medicine, and also a calm, gentle, caring man. He communicated slowly and clearly in plain English, not medical jargon. He showed us my CT scan, pointing out the nodule and lymph node. Dr. K started to review all the possibilities and the if-then scenarios, and I struggled to remain focused as Carol wrote and asked questions. One phrase brought me back to earth.
“The most important thing we need to do right now is to get a PET scan,” he said. “This will determine our next steps. We first need to make sure that there are no other lesions on other organs such as your liver. Once we determine that, we’ll know the correct treatment plan.” The uncertainty and waiting felt like a heavy load settling on my shoulders.
My PET scan took place Friday, April 12; I was finished around 3 p.m. The nuclear medicine technician told me results might be ready Monday, or Tuesday at the latest.
But as I headed out of my house less than three hours later, my cellphone rang, and it was Dr. K.
“I have your results. I have some good news and some bad news. Which would you like first?” he said, and I asked for the bad news.
“We have to aggressively go after your tumor. I have already set you up for an appointment with a thoracic surgeon.”
“And the good news?” I asked.
“The PET scan showed no other lesions. It is clean.”
I felt the weight of the world fall from my shoulders. I could live with the nodule being cancer. I could live with an operation. But all my prayers were answered. My cancer hadn’t spread. I was jumping up and down, laughing, crying, thanking God, thanking Dr. K. And then I asked how and why he was calling me so soon after my test.
“Because I knew the PET scan was a big worry for you,” he said. “I didn’t want you wondering and worrying all weekend. I wouldn’t want that for my family, and I didn’t want that for you.”
“Well, you have no idea how much I needed to hear this and what it means for these coming days,” I said. “I have no idea how to thank you.”
He laughed. “Well, maybe you’ll give me a good review.”
You can’t buy this kind of caring and dedication. I will be forever grateful to Dr. K, so yes, I donate to Beebe Healthcare. But if I ever win the lottery, my first purchase will be a brandy-new, bright-red Porsche for Dr. Keshishyan.
Learn more about lung cancer screenings at Beebe at: www.beebehealthcare.org/lung-cancer-screening.
As a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe Healthcare depends on the generous support of individuals, local businesses, corporations and private foundations. All gifts are tax-deductible, so please consider making a gift today. Contact Beebe Medical Foundation at www.beebemedicalfoundation.org, 302-644-2900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.