CT Lung Screening Patient Credits Mercy Health With Saving His Life

“I’m Elated!”

It’s not often that a cancer patient claims to feel elated after a diagnosis of lung cancer followed by surgery. But Roy Taylor credits his early intervention and excellent prognosis to the low-dose CT Lung Screening program at Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center and to his outstanding Mercy Health surgeon.

roy-and-sue-taylorA smoker since age 18, Roy first became aware of Mercy Health’s low-dose CT Lung Screening while reading The Grand Rapids Press in 2014. He already had COPD and was wondering if it would be worth it to get the affordable scan to give him peace of mind.

Because Taylor met several criteria1 — including the fact that he had quit smoking at age 58 — he qualified for the affordable cost of just $100 per lung screening, which was not covered by his private insurance at that time, but are covered now. Ron’s third and fourth scans were covered by Medicare. Taylor’s primary care physician made the referral to Mercy Health.

 

So in 2014, when he was 64, he made an appointment for his first scan, which showed no signs of cancer. A year later, his second scan also came back negative. In 2016 his third scan indicated he had a small growth in the middle lobe of his right lung. He was scared and was aware that “the long-term prognosis for lung cancer is not good.”

Enter Dr. Bruce Shabahang, medical director of Thoracic Surgery. His advice for Taylor was to return in six months for another scan to see if there were any changes. His fourth scan showed significant changes.

roy-taylor-with-dr-shabahang-cr“My first thought,” said Taylor, “was to go get this right now and not wait.” Looking back he is glad that he followed Shabahang’s advice.

“Our standard protocol is to wait and see if there is a change and then pursue it further if necessary,” said Dr. Shabahang. Surgery followed in July 2016 that involved removing Taylor’s middle lobe, along with several lymph nodes.

Dr. Shabahang spoke with Roy and his wife Sue for a long time after the surgery. “He is a really caring guy who spent a lot of time with me, and the care I received at the hospital was great,” said Taylor. The surgeon told the couple that there was no apparent presence of disease following surgery and at that time Taylor’s cancer was completely resected, which are “pretty powerful words.” For the Taylors and their surgeon, “that was a really good day.”

Roy and Sue recall even more good news: “Dr. Shabahang was elated when he was able to tell us that, based on my stage of cancer, I would not require radiation or chemotherapy.”

Taylor’s advice to former smokers is this: “If it weren’t for that Mercy Health program, I’d be walking around with lung cancer and not know it until symptoms appeared, when it would probably be too late.”

“Since the program began in 2013, we have 1,000 people in our program, and 32 patients have been diagnosed with lung cancer,” said Mary May, oncology nurse at Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center. We’re happy to report that the majority of those 32 patients have been diagnosed early.”

Between the COPD and the surgery, Taylor has lost about 15 percent of his lung capacity, but he isn’t complaining. “I owe my life to that program. Now I’ll be around to have fun with my grandkids.”

1Eligible patients must meet the following criteria:

  • Be between the ages of 55 to 77.
  • Have a smoking history of at least 30 pack years (one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years.)
  • Be a current smoker or one who quit smoking within the last 15 years.

Learn more at www.Mercyhealthlungscreening.com.

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