The 65-year-old Port Republic resident, who has smoked since she was a teen-ager, heard about CalvertHealth Medical Center’s program from her doctor and decided to have a low-dose CT scan earlier this spring.
She is one of 161 local residents who have been screened so far. The goal is to detect the deadly disease before symptoms appear when treatment can be more effective. The program is intended for longtime smokers or those who have quit in the last 15 years. CalvertHealth Medical Center in collaboration with Calvert Medical Imaging Center launched the proactive initiative late last year in an effort to turn the tide on the county’s high lung cancer rate, which is more than the average across all of Maryland.
Monger said she made the call because of her family history with lung cancer.
Her CT scan revealed several nodules or abnormal spots on her lung, which will require ongoing monitoring. She is also trying hypnosis to help her quit smoking. The key to the new screening program is annual scans since lung cancer can develop years after a person has stopped smoking. However, some patients may be followed more closely if there are areas the radiologists think need to be watched more carefully.
JoAnn DeCesaris Wellington and Beth Prout Lennon (center) present donation for lung cancer screening program to Foundation Board Member Cindy Parlett and CalvertHealth President and CEO Dean Teague. They were joined by members of the multidisciplinary thoracic team and foundation staff. Pictured (l-r) are medical oncologist Dr. Arati Patel, Kasia Sweeney, VP Strategy & Administrator Oncology Service Line; Theresa Johnson, AVP Corporate Communication & Philanthropy; dietitian Janet McDonald, radiologist Dr. Glenn Selman, pulmonologist Dr. Ramin Pirouz, lung health nurse navigator Diana Lewis and Foundation Grant Coordinator Melissa Carnes.
Early diagnosis leads to better treatment
In July, Beth Prout Lennon and JoAnn DeCesaris Wellington presented a check for $33,000 to the CalvertHealth Foundation. The gift was part of a fiveyear pledge of $165,000 from the DeCesaris/Prout Cancer Foundation to support this vital effort.
“We want to spread the word,” said Lennon. “The best defense is to catch it early.” The motto for the foundation she formed with her childhood friend, Wellington, is: bringing light to the fight.
Both women lost a parent to cancer – Lennon her mom and Wellington her dad – while still in their 20s. “Our parents led their lives by example and were always trying to help,” said Lennon. “So, we want to follow in their footsteps.”
The DeCesaris/Prout Cancer Foundation’s mission is to make a profound effect on lung and ovarian cancer, to bring awareness to those who do not know they are at risk and to make a difference in this dreadful disease by not only better treatment options, but finding a cure. Lennon said, “Our number one goal is to bring awareness,” she added. “We want to give people hope and to let them know that there is something that they can do to make a difference.”
She also knows how much the screening program is needed. “Calvert has a high rate of lung cancer. That means a lot of people are being affected.” Historically, the vast majority of cases have been found at later stages. Statistics show that of the 46 people diagnosed with lung cancer in Calvert County in 2014, 40 of them were stage III or IV.
The lung cancer screening is part of a larger, multifaceted effort by the medical center in collaboration with Calvert Medical Imaging Center, Chesapeake Potomac Regional Cancer Center and Anne Arundel Medical Center. The joint program also includes a nurse navigator to help guide patients through the process, a high-risk lung clinic to provide patient education and counseling and a multidisciplinary thoracic team to develop individualized care plans for patients.
“The importance of having a multidisciplinary team cannot be emphasized enough,” said Lennon. “Because the treatment of lung cancer involves so many specialties, it’s essential to bring together expertise from multiple fields to provide the best possible treatment plan.”
Calvert’s team meets twice a month and is comprised of local medical oncologists and radiation oncologists, radiologists and interventional radiologists, area pulmonologists and thoracic surgeons. Outreach and patient support essential The medical center’s mobile health center is playing an important role in reaching out to those at risk in underserved areas of the county. “Because quitting smoking is so hard for many smokers,” said Morgan Brissette, DNPs, FNPBC, CRNP. “They gain a sense of relief when they find out that a new screening program is available to them that detects early lung cancer. It gives them a sense of control over their health.”
Lung health nurse navigator Diana Lewis, RN, BSN, OCN and boardcertified oncology nurse practitioner Sandra Cassell-Corbin, CRNP, who oversees the high-risk lung clinic provide valuable patient support. Lewis is readily available to answer questions and assist with any referrals needed. In the clinic, Cassell-Corbin evaluates patients, assesses their risk and determines if they qualify for a low-dose CT scan. She also coordinates any follow-up depending on what the scan reveals.
The DeCesaris/Prout Foundation is pleased to once again hold its 6th Annual Jingle Bell Walk/Run on Dec. 2 at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis.
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