March 30, 2016
My non-small cell lung cancer story
BY Mary Clark
During a physical exam in May 2013, my doctors did a chest X-ray and found a nodule on my left lung. I went to a pulmonologist for more tests, and after all the scans and the bronchoscopy I felt in my heart it was cancer. Maybe that’s why I was able to hold it together when the doctor told me that I had stage I non-small cell lung cancer. It wasn’t until I got outside that I broke down and cried.
Before getting a second opinion, I started thinking about MD Anderson. Years earlier I’d had a boss who’d been successfully treated there, and I knew its reputation for cancer treatment and research. So I called, sent my records and got an appointment a couple days later.
My lung cancer treatment at MD Anderson
As soon as I stepped through the doors of MD Anderson, I was greeted with a smile. Over the next few weeks, I traveled back and forth from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Houston, and that smile was always there to welcome me. Everyone I met was pleasant and helpful.
Appointments always ran on time, even though there were so many people in my same shoes, waiting to see what our futures held for us.
Since my cancer hadn’t spread yet, my doctor, Jack Roth, M.D., said I only needed surgery. On Oct. 1, 2013, he and his team removed the upper left lobe where the lung cancer was. I felt that I was in good hands, and I wasn’t scared for one minute. I stayed in the hospital for the next 11 days. Some days were more painful than others. I had a drainage tube for my lungs, and after they took it out, it had to be put back in due to complications. That was painful.
Through it all, everyone at MD Anderson was so sincere, so loving and so attentive. I was shocked when I got my food delivery — room service came in a tuxedo!
Thanks to the surgery and care I received at MD Anderson, I am cancer-free. I now return just once a year, and I continue to be impressed. Even for my follow-up appointments, I’ve never waited more than 30 minutes to see my doctors. They work so fast for such a large hospital.
Life after lung cancer
Since my surgery, I have started taking care of myself. I’ve always loved reading spiritual and Christian women’s magazines. Now I read even more, especially about cancer. I’ve changed the way I eat. No red meat, more fruits and vegetables, and organic whenever possible. I’ve also started exercising and meditating. I’m more determined than ever to stay healthy so I can keep doing the things I love, especially spending time with my grandchildren and making memories with my family and friends.
I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with other cancer survivors. As I tell them: hang in there and have hope. Live your life to the fullest, don’t worry about material things, love people and take each day as it comes.
Things will get better. They certainly have for me, and I now savor life more.
TopicsLung Cancer Treatment Surgery
Everyone I met was pleasant and helpful.