Task force dis­cusses lung can­cer, out­reach ef­forts

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By BRI­ANNA SHEA

ELK­TON

bshea@ce­cil­whig.com

— The Ce­cil County Can­cer Task Force came to­gether this week to dis­cuss ideas about how to get more peo­ple to quit smok­ing in a county that has one of the high­est num­ber of smok­ers in Mary­land.

The task force, which is made up of of­fi­cials from Union Hospi­tal and the county’s health de­part­ment as well as oth­ers, met on Wed­nes­day in hopes of gen­er­at­ing ideas about how to im­prove out­reach re­gard­ing tobacco use, how to in­crease com­mu­nity in­volve­ment and how the task force can com­plete the ob­jec­tives in the Com­mu­nity Health Im­prove­ment Plan (CHIP), said Beth Money, di­rec­tor of on­col­ogy, in­fu­sion and bioethics at Union Hospi­tal and a task force mem­ber.

“Com­mu­nity health ob­jec­tives need to have Ce­cil County res­i­dents, busi­ness per­sons and those em­ployed in area busi­nesses help cre­ate and carry out the pos­si­ble plans,” Money said.

Low-dose com­puted to­mog­ra­phy (CT) scans, which are used to de­tect lung can­cer early, are avail­able at the hospi­tal and at Open MRI & Imag­ing Cen­ter in Elk­ton and Per­ryville, Money said.

“We started a low-dose screen­ing pro­gram be­cause we are one of the high­est smok­ing coun­ties in the state of Mary­land,” she noted.

Money said that 104 screen­ings have been per­formed since 2015 com­bined at all three sites and that 136 peo­ple were di­ag­nosed with lung can­cer from 2014-2015.

With the help of grant money, the county also of­fers free ser­vices for those try­ing to quit smok­ing such as self-help ma­te­rial, pri­vate con­sul­ta­tions and other ser­vices, said Mary Ellen Rap­poselli, an of­fi­cial with the county health de­part­ment and a mem­ber of the task force. The county also of­fers pre-quit­ting ses­sions for those who are think­ing about quit­ting smok­ing. The state also of­fers tobacco ces­sa­tion ser­vices, like those at the hospi­tal, in ad­di­tion to coaches smok­ers can call, she added.

Dur­ing the dis­cus­sion, a can­cer sur­vivor and new mem­ber of the task force shared her re­cent ex­pe­ri­ence with lung can­cer.

“I had no idea I had can­cer, but two years prior I no­ticed that I was get­ting re­ally tired. I didn’t have any en­ergy and I’m usu­ally an en­er­getic per­son that just bounces off the walls and it’s like ‘Oh god, I’m get­ting lazy,’” said Sherri King, a 53-year-old Elk­ton res­i­dent, who started smok­ing at age 15.

Three months af­ter she quit smok­ing, King said was di­ag­nosed with lung can­cer. King had gone to the hospi­tal be­cause she thought she had pneu­mo­nia but the nurse looked at a chest scan taken and thought she might have can­cer. From there, King went to her doc­tor and had tests done that con­firmed the di­ag­no­sis.

King’s lower left lobe in her left lung was re­moved at at the Univer­sity of Mary­land’s Med­i­cal Cen­ter in March. Then from April to June, King un­der­went four chemo­ther­apy treat­ments at Union Hospi­tal, she said. Dur­ing the chemo­ther­apy, she gained weight and de­vel­oped a con­di­tion which af­fects her feet and legs, she said.

King said she used a vape pen to help her quit.

“My main thing with smok­ing is hav­ing some­thing in your hand,” King said. “So I bought the vape pen that you could hang around your neck, and when I’m driv­ing down the road, it’s like that habit of pick­ing some­thing up. And I think that’s re­ally helped me.”

King said she still has the urge to smoke when she smells it or sees oth­ers do it and has oc­ca­sion­ally “cheated” and smoked a cig­a­rette. But she has been able to stop her­self from smok­ing by think­ing about hav­ing a lung and a half.

King said she feels good about sur­viv­ing the can­cer.

“I feel pretty good that I was able to check it out in time,” she said.

The group then spoke about CHIP, a plan cre­ated by the hospi­tal and county health de­part­ment in con­junc­tion with the Com­mu­nity Health Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil to ad­dress pub­lic health prob­lems iden­ti­fied through the Com­mu­nity Health Needs As­sess­ment, Rap­poselli said. The group will fo­cus on the plan’s se­cond pri­or­ity, which is chronic disease, and will fo­cus on res­pi­ra­tory and lung disease.

The task force broke up into two groups to brain­storm ideas. One group brain­stormed ideas to pro­mote the low-dose lung CT screen­ing pro­gram with providers and pa­tients while the se­cond group worked on how to make peo­ple more aware of lo­cal and state­based re­sources for quit­ting smok­ing. Then the groups switched and came up with ideas for the other ac­tiv­ity.

“I was very pleased with the meet­ing and the new ideas be­ing pre­sented and the pres­ence of so many who want to work col­lab­o­ra­tively to re­duce smok­ing and lower the in­ci­dence of lung can­cer in this com­mu­nity,” Money said.

The task force’s next meet­ing is sched­uled for from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at Union Hospi­tal in Meet­ing Room 2.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

The county’s can­cer task force is cur­rently brain­storm­ing ways to get more peo­ple in Ce­cil County to quit smok­ing.

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