By Ralph Marrs
I started smoking at age 18. My dad was a smoker, and he quit so that none of his kids would smoke, but everybody in the family smoked anyway. We were on our own to decide when to quit. There were seven of us, and I was the sixth one to quit. I just got to a point where I thought, “There has got to be something better than this.”
I originally learned about the opportunity to have a lung cancer screening from my family doctor, Jeremy Pripstein, at my annual physical. He explained that the government had a program for a free screening for people who had smoked for a long time.
After the screening, they saw something, and I saw Dr. Christopher Seder, my lung doctor, who recommended that I have a second exam called a PET scan.
When Dr. Seder suggested the PET scan, my first thoughts were that I might have cancer, and it’s better to deal with it when you’re younger because sometimes you wait too late.
When my father was older, he decided at one point that he was not going to any more hospitals and told us you can’t make me go. I put my faith in the doctors, and if they find something, they can rectify it and give you more time to live.
I found out I had to have surgery for lung cancer. They had to remove 20 percent of my left lung. I haven’t had any trouble breathing since the surgery, but I didn’t have any trouble breathing or feel bad before I took the scan. A huge benefit to the scan is finding there is a problem before you know it’s there.
I was glad I had the screening and would recommend that others with a similar smoking history do the same when you are still able to do something about it.