By Joan Harrison

I meant to volunteer at North Kansas City Hospital for quite some time. I just couldn’t seem to make myself do it. Maybe it was the fact that I would have to dress up that kept me from getting to it.

I was presented the perfect opportunity to offer my services as a volunteer while accompanying a friend to her doctor’s appointment. I managed to get to the hospital a little early and met with the volunteer supervisor. Oh yes, and I wore fancy clothes that said, “I would be an excellent volunteer.” They took the bait and I was “hired.”

One prerequisite for volunteering is to pass a TB test. I told the lady in charge of volunteers that I had failed a TB test once before after being exposed to an active case of TB at work. She asked if I would mind having a chest X-ray. Not many times in life are you offered a FREE chest X-ray. I jumped at the chance. I was able to get X-rayed then and there.

I barely returned from the hospital and gotten out of my fancy clothes when the phone rang. It was my primary physician’s office, Dr. Shinn, calling with news that I needed a CT scan because the chest X-ray showed something. I was trying to process this information. The nurse called and explained that I had a mass about an inch large on my right lung.

Lung Cancer Screening

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I went for the CT Scan. I felt great. I knew the CT scan would put an end to this nonsense. I no sooner walked in the door from my scan when the phone rang. This time I needed a PET scan. Oh, brother! I feel great. What is going on?

The same scenario occurred after the PET scan. I just walked in the door when the phone rang. My surgeon, Dr. Pak, told me that if he were to guess, he would guess the tumor is malignant (cancer).

So, on January 10, 2014, I had my tumor and the entire top lobe of my right lung removed. Pathology shows no involvement in the lymph nodes.

No chemotherapy is required. I get to keep my other two lobes.

After the surgery, I now tire more easily, and I get a bit winded, but I count my blessings. I am grateful for things that brought me to this place and saved my life. I am thankful for my support system, including my husband, Matthew, who faced his own battle with cancer.

My experience is a reminder that my time here is finite, and I need to enjoy the present.

Some of my immediate plans include volunteering. I want to return as a hospital volunteer and also help an organization that assists families facing foreclosure keep their homes.

Visit our website to learn more about the Lung Cancer CT Screening.