two people on a sail boat

Sailing through the uncharted waters of a diagnosis

W hen diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) seven years ago, he decided to quit smoking cold turkey.

“Quitting actually wasn’t that big of an issue,” Jack says. “I should’ve done it 30 years ago. It would’ve been better if I hadn’t started, but when I was diagnosed with COPD, that was enough for me to put [cigarettes] down and say, ‘adios.’”

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung disease characterized by progressing breathlessness. It affects 30 million Americans, and more than half have the symptoms but are unaware they have the disease.

The signs and symptoms of COPD include:

  • Increased breathlessness
  • Frequent coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness of the chest

When he began to experience more problems related to his COPD, Jack was referred to the Regional Cancer Center. “The pulmonologist wanted me to have a lung X-ray, which showed suspicious nodules,” Jack says. “They also ordered a PET scan. After my lung cancer diagnosis, I began radiation treatment.”

Nurse navigator Veena Sharma, RN, MSN followed up with him and his wife, Maureen, to see if they needed help during their journey. “After Maureen expressed she’d like guidance and resources, I met with them a few times in my office for education, planning and to discuss how we could break down barriers to better manage his care,” Veena says. Jack says Veena has been helpful throughout his care, and he and his wife remain in touch with her.

The following lung cancer awareness events are open to the public:

  • Shipley Cardiothoracic Center and the Regional Cancer Center are partnering with the Healthy Life Center at Coconut Point, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Nov. 4, to host “Clear the Air with Lung Cancer Awareness.” A panel of physicians will chair a discussion. For information and reservations, call 239-495-4475.
  • The Regional Cancer Center invites you to attend the Lung Cancer Awareness Health Fair in its lobby, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Nov. 7. Join us for food, education, a chair massage, and resources. For more information, call 239-343-9500.


Tags: Pulmonology, Oncology, Cancer Care, Regional Cancer Center, lung cancer, COPD