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Shining a Light on Lung Cancer

Nov 25, 2015

Shining a Light on Lung Cancer

Caregivers and employees joined patients and their families at the "Shine a Light on Lung Cancer" vigil in the hospital lobby recently. The vigil, now in its 7th year, is the largest coordinated awareness event for lung cancer in the country.

Lung cancer survivors, their caregivers and supporters at NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt Manor joined a nationwide vigil on November 12th to raise awareness and provide hope for those affected by the disease, which is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States. November is International Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the "Shine a Light on Lung Cancer" vigil was organized by the Lung Cancer Alliance.

Hospital employees also gathered in the lobby to hear information about advances in treatment from the keynote speaker, Dr. Lawrence Koutcher, Radiation Oncologist at the Cheryl R. Lindenbaum Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Omar Al-Awwad, Hospitalist/Internal Medicine, discussed the importance of screening. Anne Campbell-Maxwell, Administrative Director of the Center’s Oncology Service Line, introduced Suzanne Willis, a lung cancer survivor and patient. Mrs. Willis, of Garrison, NY, shared her history as a lifelong smoker, the discovery of her lung cancer as a participant in the low dose CT screening program here, and her journey toward health. She is now celebrating one year cancer-free.

"I feel most fortunate to have been one of those very lucky people who benefitted from the early CT scan," Mrs. Willis said. "The people here – the doctors and all the nurses – were more caring than at the three other hospitals combined that I had been to."

Patricia Mirabile, a hospital chaplin, requested all to light and raise up glowsticks supplied by the Lung Cancer Alliance for "a moment of reflection" in acknowledgement of survivors, and patients and their families, as well as gratitude for medical advances.

Speakers and directors

Suzanne Willis, a lung cancer survivor and patient, (CENTER) is surrounded by caregivers and a hospital chaplin after the vigil. From LEFT: Kathy Kiernan MS RT R MR, Administrative Director, Diagnostic Imaging and Radiation Oncology Services; Anne Campbell-Maxwell RN MBA, Administrative Director of Oncology Services; Patrice Mirabile, Hospital Chaplin, Lawrence Koutcher, MD; Omar Al-Awwad, MD; and Marthia Nichols RN MSN MHA OCN, Program Manager, Oncology Services.

The Cheryl R. Lindenbaum Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital is a leading cancer center in Westchester County, offering medical oncology, radiation oncology, and the infusion center and support staff just steps apart in a state-of-the-art facility. The Center offers free low dose CT lung screenings that can detect cancer in the early stages, thereby increasing chances of survival. To determine your eligibility and schedule a free screening, call 914-293-8474.

This year the free screening program attracted 113 patients, two of whom were diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. Early detection of lung cancer can increase chances of survival after five years from about 4 percent to more than 50 percent. The hospital began the free screening program in November 2013 and has performed 267 free low dose CT scans to date.

The Lung Cancer Alliance, based in Washington, D.C., is the oldest and most highly rated lung cancer charity in the United States.