Regional Cancer Center - Oncology
Lung Cancer Patient Uses Many Services to Fight Her Condition
She smoked but gave up her cigarettes 14 years ago. Since then, Lehigh Acres resident Susan Swanson had been relatively healthy, with the exception of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Then, she started getting winded when she walked.
I noticed I was getting tired and out of breath, Susan says. I couldn t carry my laundry.
She went to her physician, who referred her to a pulmonary specialist. A chest X-ray revealed a spot on one of Susan s lungs. A biopsy in January 2011 confirmed that the spot was cancer.
I fell apart, Susan says. You go through the initial shock, then you get angry; then you accept it.
Susan started treatment immediately, and endured radiation and chemotherapy as part of her treatment plan. She is still under the care of an oncologist and receives chemotherapy every three weeks. I was not a candidate for surgery to remove the lung cancer because of my COPD, Susan says.
In addition to traditional treatments, Susan also has turned to faith and holistic treatments to help her overcome her illness. She attends church and gets acupuncture treatments. The acupuncture really makes a difference, she says. It s boosted my energy level. I was taking four-hour naps in the middle of the day, and I couldn t do anything. Since I started the acupuncture I haven t taken one nap.
She also has completely eliminated her use of oxygen, but keeps a spare tank in the house in case she needs it. While there is no cure for Susan s condition, her cancer is not growing at a substantial rate. Susan is one of thousands of cancer patients who receive help through the Regional Cancer Center each year. The center is a partnership among Lee Memorial Health System, Florida Cancer Specialists and 21st Century Oncology.
Many patients, like Susan, receive a full spectrum of care, from medication and cancer education, to nontraditional therapies, including massage, yoga and acupuncture.
Susan is an example of a patient who has received a broad spectrum of care, says Sharon MacDonald, vice president, Oncology Services. We strive to treat the whole person, not just the signs and symptoms of cancer. People who are living with cancer deserve the highest level of care we can provide and the opportunity to live as normal a life as possible.
Susan says the exceptional care she receives, from her physicians and the staff who work in the Regional Cancer Center, to her family, have had a positive impact on her life. You can live a normal life, she says. Don t wallow in your illness. Try to be positive and surround yourself with a good support system.
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