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Keeping Watch

Patient & doctor kept a close eye on lung nodule, early detection made survival possible

After many years and tries, Brigitte Ducote overcame the difficult task of quitting smoking in 2010. It was several years later when she began seeing information on lung cancer screenings being offered at the Cancer Center. After seeing these messages over and over again and knowing her risks, she felt like it was a sign from the heavens, as she met much of the criteria for the scan.

So, Brigitte summoned up all her bravery and sought out her first screening in 2013; a small spot was detected.

“I don’t consider myself a health nut, but I try to take care of myself and want to live a long happy life, so after consulting with my doctor I continued lung scans to keep a close eye on the nodule,” said Bridget. “For several years, together, we determined removal was not yet required.”

Brigitte continued screenings every year with her doctor discussing the options each time. However, it wasn’t until 2020 that the nodule began to grow larger and she and her doctor determined it was time to take action to ensure the disease did not spread, but it’s important to note that she was having no symptoms. Without the screening, she would have never known about the disease until it had progressed enough for symptoms to begin appearing.

After additional testing, it was determined that the tumor was Adenocarcinoma, a cancer that forms in mucus-secreting glands throughout the body. The disease may develop in many different places, but it is most prevalent as a lung cancer.

Since Brigitte had been a part of Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center’s comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening Program, a robotic surgery was quickly performed by thoracic surgeon Dr. Emily Cassidy.

Because of the small size of the tumor, Brigitte only required surgery and Dr. Cassidy was able to remove the tumor; no other treatments were necessary. And much to her surprise, the surgery was much less painful than she imagined, as robotic surgery typically requires less down time and a quicker recovery.

“I’d had other surgeries in the past for other conditions and I couldn’t even sit straight up. After this procedure, I was able to sit straight up and walk to the restroom.”

Brigitte was a legal assistant and is now retired and enjoys the company of her husband, daughter, parents and granddaughter. She also enjoys the beach and has a group of friends that she enjoys meeting up with. She and her husband also enjoy working in the yard and she is encouraged that she will be participating in all of these activities for many years to come as a cancer survivor.

Learn more about lung cancer screenings and take a quiz to determine your eligibility. Patients should also speak to their family physician about lung cancer screenings and if it’s right for them. You can also call (225) 230-2525.