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Lung cancer patient offers a breath of fresh air

Teresa Layne
Teresa Layne brings humor to her chemotherapy sessions with her whimsical hats.

Injecting hope and humor into chemotherapy sessions

The patients and staff in the chemotherapy infusion center of the Augusta Health Cancer Center share feelings of determination, resolve and compassion. One special patient adds a dose of humor.

Teresa Layne, 62, wears funny hats to her chemotherapy sessions — a ritual that began after a friend knitted a wacky one for her. “It started as a joke,” says Layne, “and it made the staff smile and that made me smile, so I try something a little different every time, even if it’s just a headband with cat ears.”

The discovery that Layne of Fishersville had lung cancer was actually somewhat accidental. In 2016, Layne went in for a CT scan because of a problem with her bladder; it was that scan that revealed she had lung cancer. Layne was referred to the head oncologist at Augusta Health and has remained in the hospital’s cancer program ever since. “I wanted the best care I could get,” says Layne, “and I didn’t want to travel over the mountain if I didn’t have to.”

In the time since her diagnosis, Layne has built strong relationships with the clinical staff at the infusion center. “They know their job and they are so wonderful,” says Layne. She also appreciates the fact that she has been seeing the same friendly faces among the nurses for the span of her chemo treatments.

Layne has wonderful things to say about Megan Howell, RN, BSN, lung/colorectal/head and neck cancer nurse navigator. “Megan always comes to see me,” Layne reports, “and she is absolutely great. If I have a question about any weird stuff that happens in between my regular appointments with my oncologist, she can get me an answer fast.”

Howell admires Layne’s spirit as well. “She has a great attitude,” says Howell. “She likes to make the nurses laugh, and it’s fun for the patients and herself.”

Both Layne and Howell agree that getting screening for lung cancer is vitally important. People ages 55–80, especially those with a history of smoking, can be referred for a low-dose CT scan that can detect lesions in the lung before symptoms (like unexplained chronic coughing or bloody sputum) are present. Howell reports that as of September 2018, there have been 47 cancer diagnoses through the screening program.

“I would urge anyone to get that low-dose CT screening,” says Layne. “And do your homework about lung cancer; read up on and get educated on the subject. All you need to get lung cancer is a pair of lungs.”

Interested in a lung cancer screening? Learn more.