So you can get back in the swing of things – Linda’s Story
Lung cancers are the second most common cancer in both men and women in the United States—mostly identified in individuals who smoke. According to the American Cancer Society, 2021 statistics reveal a slight decrease in the overall lung cancer cases partly because people are quitting smoking.
Linda, a 76 year-old Upper St. Clair resident and a retired St. Clair Health CCU nurse of 44 years always believed she was in good health. She admitted that she never practiced what she preached to her patients regarding the importance of annual checkups with primary care physicians and following up on routine screenings as you age to help with early detection. Linda was also embarrassed to mention to her peers that she never had a primary care physician but felt that it was time to begin taking care of herself.
When Linda’s peers convinced her to find a primary care physician they asked, “Who would you choose to be your primary care physician?” “I would prefer to see Dr. Daroski,” said Linda.
Dr. M. Sabina Daroski is an internal medicine physician who practices with St. Clair Medical Group Internal Medicine. Dr. Daroski took Linda on as a new patient and they established a wonderful connection. During Linda’s second annual visit, Dr. Daroski ended the visit with saying, “Are there any other concerns that we should discuss at this time?”
Linda admitted to Dr. Daroski that she was a “closet smoker” for years—no one knew that she smoked. After retiring as a CCU nurse, she made a commitment to quit smoking. Although Linda has already quit and was doing well with not relapsing, she thought it would be beneficial to receive an X-ray of the chest in her older age. Dr. Daroski recommended and wrote Linda a prescription for an unenhanced CT scan of her chest.
“I felt extremely healthy. I had no symptoms or a reason for bringing up my smoking history, but I’m so glad I did,” said Linda. When the CT chest scan results came in, Dr. Daroski immediately reacted. The results showed a possible left breast nodule, which means abnormal swelling or aggregation of the cells. Luckily, the nodule that was identified was not cancerous. But, they also discovered swelling and cloudiness of cells in the left lung, coronary artery calcifications—a buildup of plaque within the wall of coronary arteries, and other findings consistent with a benign tumor in the right adrenal glands.
“Dr. Daroski explained my results in detail—and I knew then, that day, it was just the beginning of my journey,” Linda said.
Linda was diagnosed with cancer within the lower lobe of the left lung which is one of two lobes that make up the left lung. It is separated from the left upper lobe by the left oblique fissure and subdivided into four segments.
Her next step was to meet with St. Clair’s top thoracic surgeon, Richard Maley, Jr., M.D. Dr. Maley is a thoracic surgeon with St. Clair Medical Group who serves as Chief of Thoracic Surgery at St. Clair Health. Dr. Maley confirmed Linda’s diagnosis and promptly initiated the next steps in her treatment plan. “Linda was very fortunate with her treatment plan,” says Dr. Maley. “Her lung tumor was small enough that our thoracic team felt confident that no chemotherapy or radiation was needed and that we could remove the tumor with surgery.”
“The feeling of comfort and compassion from every one of Dr. Maley’s staff members was astounding,” said Linda. Linda notes with each visit to review results or discuss her therapeutic plan developed specifically for her, Dr. Maley and the staff involved were always compassionate and personable. “They made me feel like I was their only patient. No one ever rushed me and Dr. Maley always made time to answer my questions and make sure I understood the process.”
“I cannot stress enough how important that is to patients and caregivers who have a potentially life-threatening health event,” Linda said.
Dr. Maley performed minimally invasive, video-assisted surgery to remove Linda’s lung tumor. The expert thoracic team at St. Clair were able to remove Linda’s entire tumor in a single surgery. Linda was amazed she could have surgical intervention performed on Wednesday, and be back home by Saturday.
Linda is an avid golfer and couldn’t wait to get back on the course with her friends and also enjoy time with family again. Just two weeks after her surgery, Dr. Maley granted her permission to drive. Linda was forever grateful for her miraculous recovery time—that got her back in the swing of things, in no time.
In 2022, Linda celebrates her 7th anniversary of being cancer-free. She continues to enjoy life back on the golf course, where she can continue to improve her game, with her friends by her side. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help from my team of experts at St. Clair Health. The collaboration between service lines and the compassionate care they provide is seriously remarkable for our region.”
SABINA DAROSKI, M.D., FACP, CMD
Dr. Daroski is an internal medicine physician and practices with St. Clair Medical Group Internal Medicine formerly known as Fatigati/Nalin Associates. She earned her medical degree at Northeast Ohio Medical College, and then completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at UPMC Mercy. She is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Daroski practices with St. Clair Medical Group. To contact Dr. Daroski, please call 412.343.1770.
RICHARD H. MALEY, JR., M.D.
Dr. Maley is Chief of Thoracic Surgery at St. Clair Hospital. He earned his medical degree at Hahnemann University Medical School, and then completed residencies in general surgery at the University of Kentucky and in cardiothoracic surgery at UPMC. Dr. Maley then completed fellowships in trauma/critical care at University of Kentucky and in thoracic surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City. He is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. Dr. Maley was named a Top Doctor in 2021 by Pittsburgh Magazine. Dr. Maley practices with St. Clair Medical Group. To contact Dr. Maley, please call 412.942.5710.