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Early Detection Helped Germaine Grabowski Knock the Wind out of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer screening found what turned out to be a cancerous nodule in her lung

Germaine Grabowski

Retiree Germaine Grabowski, 65, has always been health conscious. As a former home health aide and administrator, she’s dedicated to staying active and walks at least 5 miles every day with her husband, Stanley.

For a long time, there was only one thing that stood out in her personal health history: 47 years of cigarette smoking. While she was aware the habit could affect her health, Grabowski never experienced any concerns related to smoking, like coughing or shortness of breath. So, when her primary care physician suggested annual lung cancer screenings (which can find lung cancer before it causes symptoms and when it is most treatable), Grabowski wasn’t concerned.

While her first screening was clear, the second showed a small shadow that would need to be monitored. When it was still present during her third screening in March 2022, she was surprised to learn that it could be a cancerous nodule.

“My care team at Lehigh Valley Health Network was fantastic. They not only provided me with excellent care and saw me quickly, but they also helped me stay positive throughout every stage of my journey.” - Germaine Grabowski

Rapid and comprehensive lung cancer care

After receiving the results, Grabowski knew she needed to take action. While she lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., for half of the year and had received her screenings there, she opted to return to Pottsville, Pa. (where she resides the other half of the year), for additional evaluation and care.

“My family and I have been seeing Lehigh Valley Health Network doctors and nurses for many years,” Grabowski says. “While I was very nervous about what my screening results meant, I knew my care team in Pennsylvania would take great care of me.”

Grabowski made an appointment with Heather Sugarman, CRNP, with LVPG Family Medicine-Vine Street, who connected her with Andrea Dally, CRNP, with LVPG Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine-1250 Cedar Crest. After additional testing confirmed there was a nodule, Dally quickly contacted thoracic surgeon Richard Chang, MD, with LVH Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery-1250 Cedar Crest and Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute.

“Andrea knew how concerned I was, and she personally contacted Dr. Chang to discuss my case,” Grabowski says. “I felt like I was her family member – she truly went to bat for me.”

In June 2022, Chang surgically removed a portion of the upper lobe of Grabowski’s right lung and a few surrounding lymph nodes. During the procedure, it was confirmed that the nodule was cancerous, but found at an early stage.

“Dr. Chang was great – he helped Stanley and me understand everything and answered all of our questions before my surgery,” Grabowski says. “It went very well, and after only a week, I was able to start taking long walks again.”

An advocate for lung cancer screening

Since her procedure, Grabowski’s follow-up scans have shown no evidence of cancer. She will continue to be monitored closely for several years by her care team in Pennsylvania and her doctors in Florida.

“My care team at Lehigh Valley Health Network was fantastic,” she says. “They not only provided me with excellent care and saw me quickly, but they also helped me stay positive throughout every stage of my journey.”

Since receiving her diagnosis, Grabowski has been working on quitting smoking and has become a strong advocate for screenings.

“Lung cancer screening is just a quick and painless scan – it’s very easy,” she says. “I tell everyone I know who smokes or did in the past to ask their doctor about it. It’s such a simple thing, but it can save your life. It truly saved mine.”

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