Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Norman man is back on his feet and running again after recently conquering lung cancer.

Bill Burrows, who previously completed six full marathons and three half marathons, has started training for a 5K race this fall after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016. Burrows credits an inexpensive lung scan for saving his life from the leading cause of cancer in the United States.

The avid runner said he felt almost positive he couldn’t have any health problems especially with his lungs because he had quit smoking 25 years earlier. But Burrows, a mechanic for Norman Regional Health System, kept seeing an ad at work for a $79 lung scan that grabbed his attention. 

This low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan is a noninvasive and painless way to screen for lung cancer. Burrows said he finally decided to have the scan since it was a good price and would only take about 10 minutes. Since he was a healthy runner he expected no problems to show on the scan but his doctor called after getting Burrows’s results and said he wanted to have a specialist look it over just to make sure everything was fine. 

Burrows met with Norman Regional’s interventional pulmonary specialist Sergio Garcia, MD.  Dr. Garcia was able to pull up an older scan Burrows had done to compare the two and found an area of concern. Burrows had a biopsy done which revealed he had non-small cell carcinoma. 

Soon after this news Burrows was contacted by Norman Regional’s dedicated oncology nurse navigator Sherri Jo Johnson who explained his diagnosis, the steps to deal with it and helped guide him throughout the treatment process. Next Burrows had surgery to remove the top right lobe of his lung and became cancer free.  Since the cancer was detected before it spread anywhere else in his body, Burrows did not need further treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy.

"Mr. Burrows is a prime example of why the lung screening program offered at Norman Regional Health System is very important,” Dr. Garcia said. “It provides early detection. This one simple scan saved his life."

Burrows encourages everyone to get the screening.

“Even if you have absolutely no symptoms, feel great and are active – even a long-distance runner – get this test,” Burrows said. “If nothing turns up, great, but you will at least have a bench mark to compare with in the future.”

When he started running again Burrows mentioned to a coworker he was looking for a T-shirt to wear during races that said “Lung Cancer Conqueror” because he thought one saying “Survivor” just wasn’t enough. Recently Norman Regional staff had a shirt with this saying made specially for Burrows and surprised him with it at a meeting of the Engineering Department.

Norman Regional offers the low-dose CT lung screening for $79. Referrals are not required for this non-invasive screening. It is recommended for people who are age 55 to 74, have smoked more than a pack a day for 30 years, currently smoke or have quit smoking within the past 15 years, have been exposed to secondhand smoke for an extended period of time, or have previously had or currently have a job with exposure to radon, asbestos or diesel exhaust.

Appointments can be scheduled by calling 405-307-2290 or clicking here.