“Lung cancer, when caught early, has a much higher cure rate,” Angela Wagner, the lung care coordinator at Mercy Health – Springfield Cancer Center, explains.
“Unfortunately, as it stands now, early-stage lung cancer often has no symptoms. So, it’s not usually diagnosed until the patient is already in stage 4.”
And specifically in the Springfield, Ohio region, lung cancer has proven especially deadly, with the Ohio Department of Health reporting lung and bronchus cancer accounting for nearly 30 percent of cancer deaths in both Clark and Champaign counties.
“This is why it is so important to advocate for lung cancer screenings,” Angela states. “Many people do not know that they meet certain criteria. They should have a lung cancer screening every year, much like a mammogram.”
Because of the lung cancer issue in this particular community, our ministry created Angela’s role to help promote the issue and provide patients with an added resource.
“As lung care coordinator, I track all lung screenings and follow those that require additional testing,” Angela explains. “I also help patients and their families as they navigate through their journey. I always strive to be a familiar face who can help address any needs they may have.”
Having suffered a cancer loss in her own family, Angela understands the traumatic experience that receiving such a diagnosis can be. While she’s there to support those who find themselves facing such a situation, she knows that prevention is the best way to ensure more families are spared the heartache.
To help promote early detection, our Springfield market recently hosted “Shine a Light on Lung Cancer,” a community event that Angela helped organize.
“We had local speakers discuss the facts and statistics about lung cancer prevalence in our area,” Angela shares. “We had an honor tree beautifully lit and filled with white ribbons by lung cancer fighters, survivors and their families. At the end of the event, everyone was given a flashlight to ‘shine a light’ outside and honor those who have suffered from this disease.”
The event helped raise awareness for the importance of lung cancer screenings – which is a lose-dose CT scan that takes pictures of your lungs to look for abnormalities. Angela adds it was also a chance to help destigmatize the disease.
“Many people automatically assume that it always stems from smoking, which is not the case,” Angela explains. “Even if that is the thing that sparks someone’s eventual diagnosis, we need to acknowledge that no one deserves lung cancer.”
For those who find themselves facing a cancer diagnosis, there is hope. Treatment options have expanded significantly over time. In fact, the American Lung Association even ranks Ohio among the best states for receiving treatment after a lung cancer diagnosis.