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Murphy, 62, a diesel mechanic with KMB Truckers in Pontoon Beach, Ill., who lives in East Alton, had the screening done at Alton Memorial shortly after his second bout with COVID-19 in September 2022. He had a positive screening that ultimately led to the removal of a cancerous nodule in his lung.
“Pathology of the nodule confirmed that John had adenocarcinoma of that left upper lobe,” said Emily Kane, the lung navigator at Alton Memorial. “We’re happy that the screening done here helped discover this.”
Murphy was at a higher risk for developing lung cancer. He also started smoking at the age of 15 and only quit about 10 years ago, averaging a pack a day in that time. His job as a diesel mechanic also put him in regular contact with diesel fumes, which is a known carcinogen. He had his first bout with COVID-19 in October 2020. But his second infection a year later was different.
“This second time I just couldn’t breathe,” he said. “My upper chest hurt, but an X-ray didn’t see anything. The CT scan helped find the nodule. My wife was in a panic by this time.”
Murphy visited Dr. Paul Eckerle, a pulmonologist on the AMH medical staff, who ordered the Positive Emission Tomography (PET) scan at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. “The PET scan indicated that the nodule was very suspicious for cancer, so John underwent pulmonary function tests at Alton Memorial to determine if he was a good surgical candidate,” Kane said. The PFTs came back normal, so the surgery lasted six hours, and Murphy was back home after four days. “Now I’m just taking it easy,” he said. “I sure get tired a lot easier than I did before. Just taking the laundry downstairs leaves me out of breath. I still go to a pulmonary therapist, but my last PFT had a good result. I’m not sure when I will go back to work. Being a diesel mechanic isn’t very easy for someone with breathing issues.
“Everybody at Alton Memorial and BJC was just great. Having that first screening at Alton Memorial got everything started.”
For more information about lung cancer screenings please contact the CT Lung Cancer Screening Navigator at 618-463-7211.