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Local nurse has first-hand experience in cancer battle

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Lung cancer kills more women each year than any other type of cancer. This year alone, lung cancer will take the lives of an estimated 68,510 women. Local resident Georgeann Cain is a survivor of this disease.

"I was lucky because my cancer was found early," she said. "I only had three cycles of chemotherapy because the doctor did not think the cancer was shrinking quickly enough. I had to have surgery to remove it."

Cancer has influenced Cain to take positive action in her community. She is an active participant in the American Cancer Society's annual fundraiser in Putnam County, Relay for Life. Cain has been a Co-Chair for the Putnam County Hospital's Relay for Life team. She also walks every year and fills out invitations for her patients to walk as well.

Cain, an oncology nurse at Putnam County Hospital, was diagnosed with lung cancer in March of 2004. As of now, she is basically cured of cancer.

Surgery and three rounds of chemotherapy were used to treat her illness.

Cain's cancer was found in part because she has an allergic reaction to tuberculosis test chemicals, leading her to have a routine chest exam every two years to test for TB. It was during one of these routine exams that a mass was found in the right upper lobe of her lung.

Cain did not find out about her diagnosis until two weeks after the exam.

"It was two weeks before I knew," she said. "The nurse that did the exam handed me the results and I felt like my world had dropped. I could not possibly have lung cancer. I did not even have any symptoms. I felt like I had been sucker punched."

Cain said her family was horrified when she told them of her cancer. She said after the initial shock, however, they learned to adapt.

"My family was very supportive. My husband, God bless him, cooked meals and kept the house clean. My sister was also a big help," she said.

Working as an oncology nurse requires Cain to treat patients with cancer every day. Her job has given her an interesting perspective on her illness.

"It is a whole different ball game when it is you instead of a patient," she said. "I was just thankful it was me and not one of my family members."

Cancer is prevalent in Cain's family history. Her mother and grandmother also had cancer. Her mother lost her life to liver cancer in 1997, and Cain's grandmother was also affected by breast cancer.

During her treatment, Cain said she found staying home too stressful. To relieve some of the anxiety her lung cancer was causing her, the nurse continued to work every day at the hospital. She said she wanted to keep her mind busy with work instead of with what what was happening to her physically.

Now that she no longer feels the effects of lung cancer on her body, Cain said her memory of the treatments is no longer in the front of her mind.

"The cancer was there, then it was gone. It is kind of all like a haze," she said.

Cain said she was very pleased with the hospital staff during her treatment. She said she had three of the best oncology doctors and OCN certified nurses to treat her.

"The oncology department is a dedicated group. The (nurses) really walked me through my treatment. I recommend this hospital with my life," Cain said.

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