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Former long-term smoker shares her lung cancer screening journey – part I

By the time I started working with Sara Wykes, a brilliant writer at Stanford Hospital (and a Scope contributor), she had already been cigarette-free for 15 years. Sara is that colleague who insists on whole-wheat bagels and egg-white omelettes while the rest of us indulge in egg bagels covered in layers of cream cheese or syrup-laden pancakes. Sara is also the one who reminds us how important it is to get our flu shots and to keep up with our daily exercise routine. I wouldn't say that she's a health freak, but she certainly takes good care of herself and nudges others around her to do the same.

So when I found out that not only Sara had been a smoker, but had smoked about a pack a day for 30 years, I was surprised. Clearly, Sara is a changed woman and has made her health a priority.

When our team began preparing for November's National Lung Cancer Awareness campaign, Sara mentioned that she now qualified, based on newly approved guidelines, for CT lung-cancer screening. The screening, which is quick and painless, could potentially save Sara's life: In 2011, the New England Journal of Medicine published results from the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial that showed a 20 percent mortality reduction in a high-risk population who had been screened using low-dose CT as compared to a control group screened using chest radiography.

Sara was very generous and brave by agreeing to have her screening journey filmed and shared; above is the first of a three-part series documenting her experience.

Previously: Stanford lung cancer experts address new screening guidelines, Lung cancer can affect anyone, but not everyone is listening and Lung cancer rates declining in the U.S.

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