Dolton Man Faces Lung Cancer with a Positive Attitude

A positive attitude can go a long way...especially when faced with a challenging illness

Just ask 73-year-old Harry Preston of Dolton. The retired hospital administrator was recovering from routine laparoscopic gallbladder surgery at Ingalls in the fall of 2008 when he received unexpected news.

“My doctor (Ganapathi Gottumukkala, M.D.) told me my breathing seemed labored as I was getting up to take a walk,” Harry recalls. “I was supposed to go home the next day, but Dr. Gottumukkala said he was ordering a CT scan for me. I felt fine though.”

The next morning, Dr. Gottumukkala told Harry he had a mass on his right lung.

“I was surprised, of course,” Harry recalls. “But I wasn’t distressed. I usually have a pretty good attitude about things.”

Harry was quickly referred to board-certified oncologist and geriatrics specialist James Wallace, M.D. After consulting with surgeons, Dr. Wallace told Harry the best course of treatment was removal of the right lung, followed by chemotherapy, then radiation.

Harry’s positive attitude served him well over the next several months as he braced for another major surgery and cancer treatment.

“Mr. Preston was diagnosed with stage II-b non-small cell lung cancer,” Dr. Wallace explained. “That means it had spread beyond the lung by the time it was detected. It was serious.”

In Harry’s case, the cancerous tumor had entered a major blood vessel. Removal of the entire lung offered the best prognosis. So in early January 2009, thoracic surgeon Vitaly Piluiko, M.D., removed Harry’s right lung.

Three months later, Harry began chemotherapy treatment at Ingalls. When that was done, he expected to start radiation therapy. But he received another surprise...this time a pleasant one.

“Dr. Wallace called me and said, ‘I’ve got some good news for you: radiation therapy isn’t necessary,’” Harry remembers. “I was so happy!”

Nearly two years after his initial cancer diagnosis, Harry says he continues to receive “A+’s” from Dr. Wallace following regularly scheduled CT scans. Though he stays close to home for now, Harry enjoys traveling, cruises and visiting with friends.

“Mr. Preston has done very well in treatment,” Dr. Wallace added. “There is no evidence of cancer at present.”

“Dr. Wallace says I’m doing just fine, and that’s all I need to hear. He is much more than a doctor to me. He’s a friend. I’m also very grateful to Dr. Gottumukkala. If it weren’t for him ordering that first CT scan, I might not be here right now.”

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