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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Gloria Gayle

Lung cancer - Stage I

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.

View CTCA treatment results for lung cancer

Overview

My story

I joined the military in 1979. It was the first year that women were required to train with men, and I was part of the first group. Physical training was tough. We had to run 15 miles with a full backpack and weapons in hand. I enjoyed the challenge. The physical activity shaped who I am and made me a stronger person.

While in the military, I met and married my first husband. Our daughter was born while we were on tour in Germany, and our second daughter was born after we returned to the United States. I spent three years in the military, and during that time, I fell in love with physical activity, especially running.

I always considered myself physically fit, but I knew I had one vice that contradicted it—smoking. I grew up in a household where my mother smoked. Back then, the dangers of cigarette smoke weren’t fully understood. I eventually picked up the habit as well. When you are exposed to smoking that early, it really makes it difficult to quit. I smoked about a pack a day.

Then in 2010, I had to have half my thyroid removed to take out a growth. After the surgery, I continued to smoke because the tumor was benign. A few months later, during a follow-up CT scan, they found a spot on my lungs. After numerous tests, it was determined that it wasn’t cancerous. We monitored it for several years.

Quitting    

When the doctor told me about the spot on my lungs, I realized it was time to quit. I read online that quitting smoking improves lung cancer survival for people who stop smoking after they're diagnosed. The thought of dying of lung cancer frightened me. Although at the time I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer, I knew I wanted to be healthier and that smoking was causing me harm.

I felt like this bump in the road was what I needed to slow down and re-examine my life. I also felt like it was divine intervention and the Lord was telling me that this was the time to quit. I knew that quitting smoking was the best gift I could give myself. I instantly quit smoking, and I haven’t had another cigarette since that day.

Then in 2014, during a follow-up exam, my doctor told me the tumor was growing and surgery was recommended. He described a surgery that would require a long and painful recovery. The doctor informed me that although the PET scan didn’t show signs of cancer, sometimes the cancer isn’t found until after surgery and the tissue is biopsied.

The description of the surgery scared me, and I honestly just didn’t want to go through that. So I put it off. A year later, I realized that I needed to address the spot on my lungs. I went to see another surgeon. He gave me a similar description of the surgery, and I was just not convinced that this was the right doctor or treatment option for me.

A third opinion

Sometimes a second opinion just isn’t enough. After watching a Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) commercial, I wanted to find out more about them. I was interested in CTCA® because of the focus only on cancer. It made me think that I needed to be somewhere that specialized in that one area. So I called them and scheduled an appointment at the hospital in suburban Illinois, which was about 80 miles from my home.

With a military background, I appreciate order and discipline. In my opinion, order brings positive results. CTCA took care of obtaining all my past medical records and handled working with my insurance. Walking into CTCA, it was clear to me that the place was well run. I was greeted with kindness and compassion that continued throughout my entire journey.

After completing my tests, I met with my medical oncologist and surgeon. They took the time to walk me through all my results and the progression of the tumor, and answered all my questions and concerns. The doctors explained that they wanted to do surgery that was as minimally invasive as possible. I liked this option, because the scar would be smaller and the recovery time would be shorter.

I chose to continue my care with CTCA. In October 2015, I had surgery to remove the tumor, and I was released from the hospital two days later. By the next week, I was back to work, and I even felt good. The pain was minimal, and it was so much better than I expected.

The doctors told me they removed the upper right lobe of my lung. The biopsy determined that I had stage I lung cancer. Further tests showed that the cancer was removed and I did not need to follow up with chemotherapy or radiation, which was a relief. Today, I continue with follow-up appointments to monitor my lungs, and at this time, have no evidence of cancer.

Changes

Today, I am remarried to my husband, Lionel. I also have three grandchildren, and I am actively involved in their lives. I try to always look on the bright side and stay positive. Sometimes I feel guilty about smoking all those years. But I believe attitude is the key to overcoming any adversity.

After having part of my lung removed, I get tired more quickly. I can feel the difference in my lung capacity. But I am still able to run, and I am trying to build up my endurance. I have always loved physical activity and running. I have challenged myself to run in the Chicago Marathon in 2018.

My goal is to be in the best shape of my life at age 57. I’ve been working out and working with a trainer to prepare for the marathon. Winning to me is competing against myself and not about competing against others. My goal is to be able to run the whole marathon at my pace successfully. The marathon gives me something to work towards, and afterwards, I will feel a great sense of accomplishment. My whole family is cheering me on, and I am just so happy to be here and able to go for the challenge.