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Beth Ward-Bubar

Hernia Saves Her Life

Holy Name Cancer Center - Beth Ward-Bubar

Beth Ward-Bubar had a pain high in her abdomen that was progressively getting worse, especially after meals. One day just after finishing lunch, the searing jolt made her stop in her tracks. Clearly, it wasn't going away and she knew she needed to get it checked out.

An ultrasound showed something that could have been a hernia or a cyst. Further testing was required.

Beth worked in the Clinical Engineering Department, which maintains all the medical equipment, at Holy Name Medical Center and knew most of the staff members administering the tests. She started to worry when they kept bringing her back for more scans. Yet, with each one they reassured her, telling her they were just being very thorough and not to worry.

But they did see something concerning.

"Because the pain was high in my abdomen, the scans also caught the bottom of my lung," Beth said. "They saw a hernia but they also saw a shadow on my right lung. They told me it was probably nothing - they said many things can cause a shadow."

Ultimately, the only way to determine what was on Beth's lung was with a biopsy. She could also wait to see if the spot changed.

"I wanted to know what was going on so I had the procedure," Beth said. "The day after the biopsy I was told it was positive - I had a type of lung cancer called adenocarcinoma. It was a really scary time."

She realized she didn't have a will, so she went out and had one made. She was 52, and started to think a lot about dying, or at least, not living very long.

Surgery was quickly scheduled and in January 2016, Dr. Ignatios Zairis, a thoracic surgeon at Holy Name, removed the lower right lobe of her lung. She had the procedure on a Tuesday and returned home on Friday.

"Dr. Zairis is very good surgeon and made me feel so comfortable," Beth said. "He said he would take good care of me and he did - he removed all the cancer. And the nurses and rest of the staff at Holy Name were great - it really is like a family here. If I needed anything, they were right there."

Three or four days after the surgery Beth received the news she prayed for but didn't dare hope - the cancer had not spread. She would need no further treatment.

"I realized I was going to live for a while and I started focusing on health and wellness," Beth said. "I eat more salads, exercise more and my bloodwork shows my numbers are really improving."

Beth had her hernia repaired soon after recovering from her lung cancer surgery. She sees an oncologist as a precaution but is back to work, spending time with her family and trying to share her Christian faith with others. She believes her hernia happened so her lung cancer would be diagnosed and she is determined to make the most of her good prognosis.

"This was an accidental find - the type of lung cancer I had is not from smoking, it's environmental and it doesn't cause any symptoms until it's too late," Beth said. "I have a strong faith and I believe this all happened for a reason. So I believe there is more work for me to do here on earth."

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