Diagnosis: right lobe lung cancer
September 2014

You know you’re having a bad day when a diagnosis of lung cancer is a minor health problem, says Wally. A lifelong cigar smoker, smoking two to three cigars a day, Wally had a physical exam two months earlier, which he passed.

But a CT scan for a serious heart event revealed a suspicious small spot on his right lung and Wally needed a test to see if the spot was malignant.

His surgeon recommended a needle biopsy to remove a small sample, which did indeed turn out to be malignant. Since Wally was already in the operating room and prepped, his surgeon removed the upper part of his right lung laproscopically, allowing Wally to avoid a second operation and reducing his hospital stay to only one night.  “My surgeon communicated extremely well about my options. His advice about the needle biopsy was a slam-dunk. Because it tuned out positive, I only needed one procedure rather than two.”

He’s a big fan of his care team, especially his surgeon. “I didn’t know anything about lung surgery before talking to my surgeon, but he did a good job explaining my alternatives. I’d send him an email and I’d get a response back, usually the same day 2. I wasn’t expecting that, said Wally. “I was in and out of there (the hospital) so quick. I was very impressed from beginning to end. Everyone took real good care of me. I was in good hands.”

Wally’s dual diagnosis requires on-going cooperation between his thoracic and cardiac doctors. “My follow-up CT scans are coordinated between my heart and lung doctors, so the CT scan includes the lung,” said Wally, who appreciates the integrated care.

A frequent traveler to Hawaii, Wally’s also grateful for Kaiser Permanente’s electronic medical record system. The computerized record makes his medical history accessible while he’s in the Aloha state, as well as anywhere else as long as he brings it with him on a portable memory stick. “Kaiser’s computer system is state-of-the art. If I go into the ER, and see a doctor I’ve never seen before, everything is there.”

For others coping with recovery after lung cancer, Wally advises, “Be a realist about your limitations and how you can do things you did before. I’m working up to my daily 3-mile walk and I’m building up my golf game again. I’ve been very lucky and I’m happy to be alive.”

Oh, and Wally’s not a cigar smoker anymore – he quit the day of his diagnosis.

2 Normal response time is within 2 business days (Monday through Friday, except on holidays, weekends, and times when your doctors indicate they are away from the office).

DISCLAIMER: Patient stories represent individual experiences. Results may vary. All story content provided by patients.

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