11/17/2005

Grafton Woman Beats Lung Cancer – Twice

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.— If you would have asked 73 year old Grace “Darlene”  Haddix of Grafton what the future held for her back in 1995, you would have received a bleak response.  That was when she learned she had lung cancer.  “I was sure I was going to die,” said Haddix. “I lost two brothers and my dad to lung cancer.  I thought, I can’t beat this.”

Haddix smoked cigarettes for 30 years, but quit after learning that her brother had advanced lung cancer and wouldn’t survive.  “I haven’t smoked for the last 20 years,” she said.

An X-ray during a routine check-up indicated that Haddix had cancer in her left lung.  Her family doctor referred her to Geoffrey Graeber, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon and co-director of the Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program at West Virginia University’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.

“Doctor Graeber called me and told me he would do my surgery,” said Haddix.  “He said I will do everything I can to cure you of cancer and I will treat you as if you were my own mother,”

“He was so good to me. I was depressed, but he gave me hope and I recuperated nicely after my first surgery.”

Six years passed when Haddix was dealt another blow.  She learned that the spot on her right lung was also cancer, though unrelated to the cancer in her left lung.  “Doctor Graeber told me we can take care of this, and now I’m four years out from my second cancer and doing fine.”

“I don’t think I would be living if not for him and my faith in God.  I wouldn’t be enjoying my children and grandchildren.”

“He made me believe there is life after lung cancer.  I thank God every day for my health and for Dr. Graeber.  I also thank my family and my church family for their many prayers.”

With the Thanksgiving holiday close by, Haddix is looking forward to enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with her family and friends.

“November is lung cancer awareness month and the perfect time to share an inspirational story with those diagnosed with the disease,” said Graeber.  “Darlene survived not one, but two lung cancers, and has been free of the first cancer for 10 years, and free of the second one for four years.  She brings so much hope to those battling the disease.  Although lung cancer was considered an absolute death sentence 15 years ago, many patients have the chance to be cured today.”

“Both of Darlene’s cancers were Stage IA (early) tumors which have a survival rate of 60 to 65 percent at five years.  Ten percent of lung cancer patients who beat the disease the first time may develop a second primary lung cancer several years later.  Obviously, close follow-up for these patients is mandatory.”

- WVU -


05-220
For more information:
Sherry Stoneking, Cancer Center (304) 293-4599
sstoneking@hsc.wvu.edu
sls: 11/10/05

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