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Lung Cancer Survivors’ Advice for Finding the Right Doctor

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Finding the right doctor isn’t always easy, but when it comes to your health, a physician who listens to you while providing high-quality care can make all the difference.

For the two lung cancer survivors we talked to below, choosing the right doctor didn’t just make them feel more comfortable — it was a matter of life and death.

Read on as they explain why and how they found the right physician for their treatment.

Eve: Seek the care you deserve

Eve Cohn’s brother and niece were recently diagnosed with cancer when she visited her primary care doctor in upstate New York for a routine checkup. “I had smoked earlier on in my life,” she says, “and I was doing so much to help my family during a difficult time. I wanted to be sure that I was healthy, so I asked for a chest X-ray.”

Her primary care doctor, however, made her feel silly in asking for this test. He finally agreed, but Eve was disappointed in this care and decided to switch providers.

When she met with her new primary care doctor, also upstate, her worst fear was confirmed: she had a mass in her lungs that required immediate treatment. Knowing the importance of the right doctor, Eve wanted the best specialists for her treatment. Friends of hers in the medical field recommended Weill Cornell Medicine because of its reputation for exceptional care.

When Eve met Dr. Brendon Stiles, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine, she knew she was in good hands.“He is the kindest, most caring human being I know,” she explains. “When you find a doctor like that, you grab on and don’t let go.”

For Eve, trusting her instincts meant demanding the highest quality care from physicians who listened to her. “It’s so important to be proactive with your health,” she cautions.

Dr. Stiles removed the lower third lobe of her right lung (lobectomy) using a minimally invasive procedure that only required three small incisions between her ribs. She recovered quickly and never needed chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Had she listened to her initial primary care doctor, the growth on her lungs may have been caught too late. Instead, she is now cancer-free and an active advocate for lung cancer awareness to help others be vigilant with their own health care. Without a doubt, Eve is a strong believer in regularly visiting a primary care doctor, getting routine chest X-rays, and seeking out the best care available. 

Wendy: Find someone who makes you feel at ease

Wendy Li had a similar experience with Dr. Stiles. “You can tell Dr. Stiles has no agenda other than my care,” says Wendy. “He is truly passionate about helping people. I cannot recommend him highly enough.”

When Wendy first found out she had lung cancer, she felt terrified, overwhelmed, and stunned. She was very healthy, never smoked, worked out regularly, and didn’t have any family history of cancer.

She wanted to take action right away to remove the cancerous nodule. Dr. Stiles was just about to leave for a conference in Germany, but agreed to move his schedule around to perform the surgery sooner. He even arranged to do all her pre-operation work that same day.

Just four days after the biopsy, Dr. Stiles surgically removed a two-centimeter nodule. This minimally invasive technique uses image guidance to ensure a precise removal. Dr. Stiles was also careful about where the incisions were places so that the scars are not noticeable.

“Dr. Stiles was compassionate, listened to my concerns, and checked in often to see how I was doing,” says Wendy. Dr. Stiles even gave her his cell phone number before he left for Germany. She felt assured that she could call with any problems or questions during her short recovery.

Now cancer-free a year later, Wendy looks back on her experience, “Dr. Stiles and Weill Cornell Medicine made me feel comfortable and well taken care of throughout the entire process. Everyone was so kind and knowledgeable. I love Weill Cornell. I had a fantastic experience. It’s a wonderful, caring place.”

Your care is our doctors’ first priority

Each of these women made sure they received the best care possible and sought out physicians like Dr. Stiles, who listened to them and put their needs first. Their ordeals ended with positive outcomes, but the results may have been otherwise if they had not advocated for their health.

Finding the right doctor is crucial. At Weill Cornell Medicine, we are committed to helping each patient find the right physician for their care.

Dr. Stiles and our entire team of physicians and surgeons are available to help patients receive the best care possible. Search for the right doctor for you or learn more about the conditions we treat and the services we offer.