Thursday, March 7, 2019

Bill Burrows, a Norman resident and Norman Regional Health System employee, is training for the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon—his longest run since conquering lung cancer.

Burrows previously completed six full marathons and three half marathons before being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016. He has since ran one 5K this past fall.

Burrows was diagnosed with lung cancer after seeing one of Norman Regional’s internal promotions for their $79 lung scan. The low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan is a noninvasive and painless way to screen for lung cancer. Burrows said he 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."

When Burrows decided he wanted to run another half marathon, he knew it would not be easy with only the capacity of one lung, but that he could still do it. Burrows main reasoning for wanting to push himself to run another half marathon and full marathons in the future is that he wants to do it for those who can’t—those who are going through chemotherapy, those who have a terminal diagnosis, and those who were unable to conquer their cancer.

After hearing about Burrows desire to run the half marathon, Dr. Garcia; Cardiothoracic Surgeon Kyle Toal, MD; Chief Nursing Officer Brittni McGill, and Norman Regional’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation staff came together to provide Burrows an exercise plan and offer him the support he needs to ensure he’s able to run the entire OKC Memorial Half Marathon safely.

Part of Burrows’s exercise plan is monthly visits to Dr. Garcia’s office for cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET). CPET is a non-invasive procedure where a patient uses a treadmill while monitored by their physician or a respiratory therapist. The test is a way Dr. Garcia can evaluate Burrows’s exercise capacity each month until the half marathon on April 28.