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Early Detection Saves Life of Double Cancer Survivor

Mary Tarver had never been to WellStar before she called for information about the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP). “I saw an article in the newspaper about WellStar’s cancer research program. I hadn’t had any problems, but as a breast cancer survivor and a former smoker, it looked like a good opportunity to see if there was anything troublesome with my lungs,” Mary said.

Early detection is key; through the I-ELCAP, participants receive annual CT scans. With Mary’s second scan, funded through generous contributions to the WellStar Foundation, the research team saw a spot on her right lung. She met with Dr. William Mayfield, the head of the program and a WellStar thoracic surgeon, to discuss what he’d found and how best to treat it. On April 5, 2010, Dr. Mayfield performed a biopsy that showed a malignancy on Mary’s lung; she had surgery to remove 40 percent of her right lung two days later.

Further tests showed that Mary had not only lung cancer, but also breast cancer that had metastasized to her bones. She underwent radiation and is currently receiving chemotherapy.

Next, Mary is looking forward to regaining her energy to get back to her grandkids, gardening and trips with her Red Hat club ladies. “I’m retired,” she laughed, “I can do whatever I please!