Werner, Mount Sinai
Werner, a retired steamfitter and Army auto mechanic, was exposed to asbestos for the majority of his career and later developed asbestosis. Asbestosis is caused by exposure to asbestos and stiffens the tissue of the lungs, making it difficult to breath.
He also smoked for years, finally quitting in 2011. Unbeknownst to him, the cigarette smoking coupled with the asbestos exposure greatly increased his chances for developing lung cancer. Werner received his care at a VA facility and went for annual check-ups of his lungs. A nodule on his right lung appeared on one of his annual tests, but it didn’t show any change.
He had been living in Mount Sinai for 10 years when he read an article about the Lung Cancer Screening Program at Mather Hospital and coordinator Eileen Zaoutis, RN. He decided it would be more convenient to have his annual testing handled locally.
Last June, his annual screening showed that the nodule on his lung had changed. Zaoutis encouraged him to follow up with pulmonologist Daniel Baram, MD. Werner had a lung biopsy by interventional radiologist Kenny Lien, MD, which confirmed lung cancer.
Thoracic surgeon Dr. Greg Brevetti, MD, removed a portion of his lung on August 9. The doctors assured Werner that the cancer was contained by the surgery and he was all clear. Werner refers to Zaoutis as “God’s little angel,” and is very grateful that she guided him through the whole process, even meeting him at Dr. Baram’s office and visiting him in the hospital.
Werner said Dr. Baram and Dr. Brevetti worked effectively as a team and credits them for saving his life. Today, he recommends the annual screening to many of his retired colleagues. He encourages any current and previous smokers and people who have been exposed to asbestos in their careers to have a lung cancer screening.
Lorraine, a former smoker with a 35 year smoking history, had asthma since she was a child. In 2013, she was struggling to push herself to get things done, she had difficulty breathing. She went to her pulmonologist, Dr. Barbakoff who recommended that she participate in the Lung Cancer Screening Program at Mather Hospital, since she met the age criteria and previous smoking history required to be eligible for the program, there was no out of pocket expense for the screening.
Lorraine met Eileen Zaoutis, nurse navigator for the Lung Cancer Screening Program. The whole process took one-half hour. The scan itself was less than five minutes. The scan revealed that she had nodules on her lung. A subsequent biopsy indicated that the nodes were cancerous. Lorraine had quit smoking 15 years prior – she never thought she had lung cancer.
Dr. Brevetti surgically removed her left upper lobe, and all the surrounding 15 lymph nodes. Chemotherapy was required to make sure the cancer didn’t spread to the other side. Within a month, she went back to work. Lorraine follows up with her oncologist, Dr. Li Pera.
“People don’t know how important it is to be screened ahead of time,” said Lorraine. “I’m just so grateful that mine was caught in time.” Lorraine explained that Eileen was constantly following up with her to make sure she was feeling fine. “Eileen was my go-to person and she was always there for me, along with my supportive family,” said Lorraine.
Lorraine is happy that she can breathe when walking from her home to her car without having to stop. She was really struggling before her surgery. Lorraine credits Mather’s Lung Cancer Screening Program with saving her life.