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Lung cancer patient shares story about the importance of getting screened for lung cancer 

Advocate Aurora Healthcare supports those that say yes to stop smoking and lung screening during The Great American Smokeout

As we gear up for the Great American Smokeout, Sharon Patterson, 66, a former Advocate Christ Medical Center cancer patient shares her story on the importance of getting screened for lung cancer. The Great American Smokeout is held on the third Thursday in November (11/17/2022). Let this be your day to start your journey toward a smoke-free life. Join thousands of people who smoke across the country in taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing risks of cancer.

Having come from a family of smokers and have smoked for over 50 years herself; she started smoking around the age of 15 but didn’t seriously start until she was in her late teen years smoking up to a pack a day. Her father also smoked from the age of 12 up until his passing at the age of 94.

Four years ago, in 2018 Sharon got a lung cancer screening at Advocate Christ Medical Center, where her doctor reviewed her history knowing her smoking pattern and because she smoked for more than 30 years; smoking more than a pack a day. Sharon wasn’t hesitant to saying yes and decided to get screened for lung cancer. Her screening resulted in a nodule being found on one of her lungs, this which concerned her doctor.

After receiving her test results, Sharon immediately began working with her care team at Advocate Christ Medical Center where her team monitored her screening and followed up months later with additional testing. The nodule had begun to grow, resulting in the need for surgery to remove the nodule at its early stage and biopsied, it was found that it was, in fact, cancerous.

Having lost her mother to breast cancer motivates Sharon to stay on top of getting her lungs screened with a low-dose CT scan every year. She says if anything was to develop again, she could detect it early and get ahead immediately.

Because of early testing, Sharon became a cancer survivor at an early stage. She never had any of anxiety that most people experience because she wasn’t in pain and felt fine due to early detection.

Although she cold turkey-ed it for nine months, she slipped back into smoking again after some life circumstances. “It was hard but well worth it. I would never want to be addicted like that,” Sharon explains. She currently has been smoke-free since August 2022. She says she doesn’t enjoy smoking because of the cost, which made her ill, but she continues to stay encouraged and smoke-free daily.

“It’s not just the physical addiction; it’s the emotional and mental addiction that’s hard to break,” says Sharon.

Because of advancements in medicine and technology, the chances of survival and living a good life are much greater than they were years ago. The screening process is straightforward, quick, and painless.

Sharon’s lungs are still not completely healed from the number of cigarettes she smoked over the years, but she is ok with that because she is no longer ill, feels well, and is pain-free. Sharon is back to doing what she enjoys the most while living a cancer-free lifestyle. She adds that she

has many more holiday events and parties ahead of her.

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the U.S. and worldwide, mostly attributed to smoking. What makes it especially dangerous is that lung cancer symptoms typically don’t appear until the disease has reached advanced stages. Fortunately, new screenings can catch the condition in its earliest and most treatable stages – saving many lives.” says Dr. Monaliben Patel, Oncologist physician at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Annual screening is recommended for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 50 to 77 with a 20-pack-year smoking history and who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

If you meet the criteria for lung screening, don’t be afraid to get tested. The purpose is to detect lung nodules that could potentially be cancerous. Early detection can increase the chances of living a better life.

Patterson is available for interviews, along with Dr. Monaliben Patel, an Oncologist physician at Advocate Christ Medical Center who can share the importance of lung screening and early detection.

To determine whether lung screening is right for you, talk to your healthcare provider or take our lung health quiz.

About Advocate Aurora Health

Advocate Aurora Health is one of the 12 largest not-for-profit, integrated health systems in the United States and a leading employer in the Midwest with more than 75,000 employees, including more than 22,000 nurses and the region’s largest employed medical staff and home health organization. A national leader in clinical innovation, health outcomes, consumer experience and value-based care, the system serves nearly 3 million patients annually in Illinois and Wisconsin across more than 500 sites of care. Advocate Aurora is engaged in hundreds of clinical trials and research studies and is nationally recognized for its expertise in cardiology, neurosciences, oncology and pediatrics. The organization contributed over $2.5 billion in charitable care and services to its communities in 2020. We help people live well.

About Advocate Aurora Safe Care Promise

Health and safety is our highest priority. The Advocate Aurora Safe Care Promise provides additional measures to protect patients and our team members, providing peace of mind at every step of your journey with us. In person or online, we are here to ensure safe, comfortable and convenient care. As the environment evolves and seasons change, we’ll be ready with measures to ensure you’re safe.

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