Issue No. 9
Defying the OddsDate: July 20, 2010
Sally Rotondo is basically cured eight years after a terminal lung cancer diagnosis
I thought I had allergies. It was just a small cough that wouldn’t go away. My doctor did a chest X-ray, found a spot he thought was pneumonia and prescribed antibiotics.
Eight weeks later, after a follow-up CT scan and then a biopsy because the spot was still there, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was 47 and terminal. When I told my husband, he cried. I said we had one day to cry, and then we needed to walk the road.
Johns Hopkins was almost literally in my backyard. I knew if anyone could help, it would be them. I was fortunate that I didn’t have any other health problems. That meant I qualified for surgery-an upper lobectomy on my right lung. I was stage 3, which is bad-only 17 percent who undergo surgery actually survive more than five years.
It’s been nearly eight years, and I’m basically cured.
What struck me about the doctors at Johns Hopkins who treated me was that they’re on a different playing field than the rest of us-intense, laser-focused, relentless. And, they and the nursing staff provided me with a wonderful support system.
When I walk in there today, I think, I’m safe here.
Stats and Facts
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women. More people die of it than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined.
- Two-thirds of people with lung cancer diagnoses are older than 65. Less than 3 percent of all cases are found in people younger than 45.
- The most significant risk factor for lung cancer is tobacco use. Between 85 and 90 percent of lung cancer deaths are caused directly by smoking.
For more information on surgery for lung cancer, or to make an appointment, call 877-546-1872 or visit hopkinsmedicine.org/surgery.