• By Hoyt Finnamore

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Treating lung cancer during COVID-19 pandemic

June 28, 2020
lung cancer patient Sheila Piper with her husband before her lung cancer and the COVID-19 pandemic

Sheila Piper was diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sheila Piper considers herself blessed. She has a wonderful family that includes Ron, her husband of 33 years, two sons and a daughter-in-law. She's a 29-year employee of a hospital in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where she's a supervisor in the surgical department. When she's not at work, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family and two dogs.

In March, Sheila's life was interrupted by an unprecedented and challenging situation. She was diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a difficult diagnosis at a most difficult time. Despite the challenges, Sheila was able to safely receive the help and medical care she needed. And thanks to her dedicated Mayo Clinic team and timely lung cancer treatment, Sheila's outlook is very good.

Quick action to address concern

In 2015, Sheila was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a disease where tiny collections of inflammatory cells (granulomas) can grow in any part of the body — most commonly the lungs and lymph nodes. In Sheila's case, the sarcoidosis attacked her lungs.

Sheila lost part of her right lung, which limited her overall lung capacity, and for the past three years, her local doctors closely watched a spot on her better-functioning left lung. That spot remained unchanged until recently, when she presented with new symptoms.

Her local physicians conducted a series of tests and recommended that Sheila follow up at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where she previously received care for her sarcoidosis. Sheila was comfortable returning to Mayo, a place where she feels safe.

A biopsy of the questionable spot in mid-March at Mayo Clinic indicated that Sheila had lung cancer. Sheila was back at home in Grand Forks when she received the call from Aahd Kubbara, M.B.B.S. It was about the time that many states, including Minnesota, were announcing stay-at-home executive orders because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the rest of Sheila's story.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.

Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for additional updates on COVID-19. For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.