Tobacco use across the country is concentrated in the Tri-State, with Kentucky and Indiana making the list of top ten states with the most smokers. Lawmakers across the country are making the push to raise the smoking age to 21. But health experts want people of all ages to put out the tobacco, and are introducing some new technology to help those suffering from the effects.
“When I was a kid, you thought it was cool. When you get to be almost 62 and stuck with an oxygen tank cool means not so hot.”
A retired coal miner, Tom Thomas of Henderson wants people to learn from his story, and his doctor’s advice.
“Since you’re a heavy smoker, he said ‘why don’t you go down and get a lung cancer x-ray.’ I never heard of that. I heard of a regular chest x-ray.”
We were invited to see that scanner at Owensboro Health Henderson Healthplex. It uses a series of x-rays at different angles to get a look inside the body with detail.
“Picture your body like a loaf of bread,” explained Ancillary Services Manager Mary Kay Doris. “It does 64 slices a second. So you pull out that slice of bread and put it up on the screen for the radiologist to look at.”
The machine here and others across the commonwealth comes in partnership with Marquee from the University of Kentucky, part of a statewide involvement to get cancer caught early and treated quickly.
“If you are between the ages of 55 and 77 and believe this could be beneficial to you, we ask that you talk to your provider and he can enter you into that program.,” said practice manager Felicia Troutman. “We think it’s a system that is important that we get to the smaller communities and try and catch more.”
For critical community care, these professionals are drawing lessons from other successes in the fight against cancer.
“Early detection is part of the cure,” Doris stated. “Being an ex-mammographer, meeting my patients and seeing my patients year after year and the stories of lives saved. You’re going to survive very early cancer much more than when you find something stage-four.”
But for those here, the work is more than professional its personal.
Troutman shared, “Being someone who was affected by cancer before–especially lung cancer–its amazing that we can provide this to so many people.” More on the push away from the ashtray and some stop smoking resources can be found at https://www.owensborohealth.org/services/community-wellness–education/programs/freedom-from-smoking/