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George Kavanaugh, a 69-year-old Benton Harbor resident, started smoking when he was in high school. Like most smokers, he had tried to quit several times unsuccessfully. Fifteen years ago he made up his mind to be a non-smoker.

“The first couple of days were difficult,” said George. “I found the hardest part of the process was finding something to do with my hands, especially in stressful situations. Instead of reaching for a cigarette, I would grab a pencil and that made it much easier to deal with while I was quitting.”

As a nonsmoker, George felt better and was glad that he had made the decision to quit. About a year ago, George’s daughter-in-law suggested that he go to Lakeland HealthCare and participate in their lung cancer screening program. This program promotes early detection of lung cancer through a low-dose helical CT scan which is more effective than a chest x-ray when diagnosing lung cancer in its earliest stages.

George made an appointment to get the test done. Samuel J. Durham, MD, FACS, FACC, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeon at Lakeshore Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery in St. Joseph, performed George’s first scan in January 2013 at the Center for Outpatient Services, St. Joseph.

“All I had to do was show up to the appointment,” explained George. “Everything was taken care of which made it that much easier for me to get the scan done. I didn’t have to worry about anything. The whole process took 45 minutes.”

The scan revealed two very small spots on each of George’s lungs.

“Dr. Durham spoke with me after the scan and let my wife and I know that they had found these spots. I really had no symptoms other than experiencing some shortness of breath and a small cough,” George explained.

At the advice of Dr. Durham, they would monitor the small spots and George would have follow-up lung scans six months later. When asked how he felt about the initial results, George said, “I had smoked for a long time and I am no spring chicken. I had worked many years in the plastic industry and as a volunteer fireman so I was expecting something major. Actually, I was relieved to learn that the spots were small.”

In June 2013, George had a second lung scan and the spots were gone. Dr. Durham could not see any evidence of the spots from six months ago.

“My wife and I were very relieved,” George said. “I am very happy that I had the scan done — it has given me a sense of security to know that I am OK. Everyone at Lakeland was wonderful and made the experience that much easier.”

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    Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph  
    Lakeland Hospital, Niles  
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