Rita, 72, of Ridge started smoking at age 19 when she left for college. Later in life, work as a regional bank manager in West Palm Beach, FL and raising a family brought some stress. Cigarettes provided her relief. After more than 40 years of smoking and several attempts to stop, she finally quit in 2010.

“Then I retired and I moved back to New York. I saw a brochure for Mather’s Lung Cancer Screening Program in my doctor’s office,” Rita said. After discussing it with her physician, she decided this was something she needed to do now. Lung cancer is most treatable when diagnosed early and can save lives. However, knowing that you don’t have cancer, after years of smoking, is extremely comforting and reassuring.

The lung cancer screening, which is a low radiation dose CT scan, took just a few minutes. “I was contacted a few days later by the program’s nurse navigator Eileen Zaoutis. She said everything looked good. She was so encouraging and went over the test results with me,” Rita said. “It’s really wonderful.”

Rita now goes for a regular lung cancer screening at Mather every year. After one of her screenings, Rita said she received a phone call from both her doctor as well as Zaoutis. While it turned out to be nothing serious, she credits the program for being thorough and quick to get in touch with her.

Rita says scheduling her lung cancer screening every year is like any other screening and notes, “It’s quick, it’s simple, and the people are very lovely.”

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Shine a light on lung cancer awareness and get screened or encourage your loved ones to have a screening. The Lung Cancer Screening Program is for current and past smokers age 55 to 77 who have at least a 30 “pack year” smoking history (the average of one pack a day for 30  years), and currently smoke or quit in the last 15 years.

If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer Mather offers a support group to help you on your journey. Learn more here or call 631-686-2500.