The best Yuletide gift is one of good health. Carla Wyss - no doubt - would agree. The mother of three, who lives in Hudson Oaks, is the picture of good health. In fact, the soon to be 46-year-old is an avid runner and normally feels great, most of the time. But, that all changed nearly four years ago, when she finished one of her early morning workouts.
“It was in March, 2012, I felt lethargic and run down...like I had the flu and I’ve never had the flu, that’s how bad I felt,” Carla said. “So, I made an appointment with the doctor and told him what I was experiencing, which included mild chest pain.”
After a series of x-rays Carla said doctors saw a spot on her lung and initially thought it may be pneumonia.
“I began treatment for the ailment and felt better,” she said “A year later, in March 2013, the symptoms returned so I went back to the doctor.”
As before, Carla had another x ray which revealed the same spot on the lung from the prior year. Only this time she was told the news no one ever wants to hear, she may have lung cancer.
“The radiologist told me he thought it could be cancer, that they would like to perform a biopsy,” Carla said. “I thought ‘no way!’ I didn’t think that was necessary. I lived an active and healthy lifestyle and I thought I was too young for this to happen to me.”
But, the possibilities of what it could be, began weighing heavily on her mind.
“So I decided to have the procedure and I made the appointment,” she said. “Sure enough it was lung cancer. I was shocked, other than the one symptom, I never felt anything else. I’m not a smoker and never have been.”
Immediately Carla took a proactive approach having the affected portion of her lung removed.
“They kept watch over me, but the cancer immediately returned and began forming again at the bottom of the lung,” she said. “Doctors found it was a genetic mutation that was causing the cancer - genetic but not hereditary.”
She said doctors wanted to put her on a medication regimen that included pills she’d have to take for the rest of her life - or until the medicines effectiveness wore off - because it eventually would.
“I couldn’t accept that,” Carla said. “I thought I was so young, I didn’t want to be on medication the rest of my life, so I refused treatment.”
Carla said she is a strong believer in the Lord and she relied on Him to see her through, and until she decided what to do.
After a little more than a year went by Carla received a second opinion and opted for a cyber-knife procedure that’s a targeted approach to attacking cancer. In a few weeks she will find out the results.
Until that time she continues to live to the fullest. Just last month she entered a running competition in her hometown of Laredo. In her division, women 40-49, she took third out of 20 women competing.
“This is a life-long battle now,” she said. “I thank God everyday for my life especially here at Christmas. I feel like I live more with a purpose than ever before. God’s grace is upon me.”
Screening and Early Detection
Screening for individuals at high risk has the potential to dramatically improve lung cancer survival rates by finding the disease at an earlier, more treatable stage.
A 2011 study found that screening high risk individuals with low-dose CT scans could reduce lung cancer mortality by 20 percent compared to chest X-ray.
At least 8.6 million Americans qualify as high risk for lung cancer and are recommended to receive annual screening with low-dose CT scans.
If half of these high risk individuals were screened, over 13,000 lung cancer deaths could be prevented.