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PATIENTS & FAMILIES

  • Mary Ellen Kirkbride, Washington, DC

    maryellen“A CT scan saved my life.”

    Nearly seven years ago, Mary Ellen Kirkbride enrolled in a study that would compare annual CT scans and X-rays of former smokers. Mary Ellen knew the lung cancer statistics all too well. She had lost her father to lung cancer years earlier and was about to watch her mother lose her battle.

    In December 2005, a CT scan identified a cancerous lobe in one of Mary Ellen’s lungs, which was soon removed by surgeons. “That CT scan saved my life!” she remembers. After cancer was found in her lymph nodes, she began chemotherapy accompanied by imaging every six months. Again the imaging proved lifesaving when, in 2008, more nodules were found growing in the remainder of her left lung. She underwent a second surgery in August 2008 only to discover more nodules soon after, leaving her to fight her next battle, which she coined “Chemo II.”

    Today Mary Ellen is an active volunteer with the Lung Cancer Alliance and takes every opportunity to tell her story, hoping to increase the survival rate of lung cancer through the use of preventative care, especially medical imaging. “I talk to every single person I know about cancer and early detection and prevention,” she says. “I tell them, ‘If you ever smoked, get a baseline CT scan. This CT scan will provide the comparisons you will need to monitor your lungs’ health and, if cancer is detected, it will surely lengthen your life.’”

    Listen here to hear Shelia Ross of the Lung Cancer Alliance discuss the importance of medical imaging in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.

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