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Mercy Lung Center offers coordinated and comprehensive approach

Published: January 18, 2012 12:00 AM

Mercy Lung Center cares for patients with suspicious, benign and malignant lung conditions while supporting the patient and family through the process of determining a diagnosis and initiating appropriate treatment.

The lung center offers a multidisciplinary team of experts including pulmonologists, medical oncologists, thoracic surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists and professional staff.

"Simply put, our goal is to get you a diagnosis earlier, give you the greatest opportunity for a successful outcome and to provide supportive and compassionate care," says Karen Coughlin, R.N., MSN, administrative director of Mercy Cancer Center.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society. More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancer combined. It is estimated that 222,520 men and women will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year.

But there is another story often not told. Approximately 400,000 people are living in this country after a lung-cancer diagnosis. Alliance resident Susan Hawk knows this story because it is hers. Mercy Lung Center was created to help individuals like Hawk through all phases of their lung-cancer diagnosis and treatment.

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In the spring of 2011, Hawk visited her family physician because she was experiencing chest pain. Her physician ordered an X-ray at Mercy Medical Center. A lung specialist was called in, and after a CT Scan, PET Scan and biopsy, Hawk learned she had lung cancer and was referred to Mercy Lung Center.

"I was scared," Hawk says. "My mother died of pancreatic cancer, and I know many people with lung cancer are diagnosed late," she says.

"Unfortunately, that's all you hear about," Bill Hawk, Susan's husband, says. "You go online, and that's all you read. I started talking to others, and I wasn't hearing anything good."

The Hawks say they regrouped and focused on the treatment plan from their Mercy Lung Center physicians. During a pre-admission testing visit, Hawk met Bobbi Freeman, R.N., BSN, OCN, lung nurse navigator at Mercy Cancer Center.

"Bobbi helps expedite care, assists with scheduling tests and doctor appointments, and provides education and support for individuals with suspicious, benign and malignant lung conditions," says Coughlin.

Hawk's case was also discussed at lung conference, according to Coughlin. At lung conference, different medical specialties come together to look at films, diagnostic testing, pathology and treatment options. Patient names are never mentioned. "The result is a comprehensive plan of treatment based on national cancer treatment gold standards that will offer the patient the best outcome possible," Coughlin says.

On Thursday, May 5, Hawk underwent surgery for lung cancer at Mercy Medical Center. On June 29, Hawk was ready to go back to work. She currently participates in a cancer clinical trial and will follow up with her physician every six months.

"Clinical trials give patients the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of new treatments," Coughlin says. "It's also where we learn what methods of treatment offer the best outcomes."

Hawk is thankful for the time she now has to spend with family, friends and co-workers. She enjoys riding motorcycles with her husband and playing with their five dogs, two of which are rescues, and one cat. The Hawks hope their experience can inspire and bring hope to others facing a lung cancer diagnosis.

To learn more about Mercy Lung Center, see cantonmercy.org or call 330-458-4214.

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