Story of Hope
Lung Cancer Patient Gets Back to Living Life
“Everyone says, ‘Do you know how lucky you are?’” says Marcia Dauphinais. “Yes … we certainly do.”
To see her husband David, 73, do something as routine as mowing the lawn is a true miracle.
While in happy spirits now, it was a very scary time for the New Hampshire residents (right) when they went to Disney World to celebrate a wedding anniversary six years ago.
“We had a great time. It was one of our best vacations,” Marcia, 71, says. “However, when we came back, David had a cough that wouldn’t go away. He had been a smoker and had COPD, so we couldn’t fool around. We decided to go to the doctor.”
Only back from vacation a week, their local doctor sent David for an X-ray.
“The minute the doctor called, I knew something was wrong,” Marcia says.
The X-ray showed that David had a large tumor and the doctor recommended visiting an oncologist. After a PET scan, David was diagnosed with stage 3, almost into stage 4, lung cancer.
At the recommendation of his oncologist, chemotherapy and radiation seemed to be shrinking the tumor. But, what happened one day at work for David changed the course of his treatment.
“He started spitting up blood and was rushed to Exeter Hospital,” Marcia says. “They couldn’t find a clot. We were in the middle of snowstorm, but the doctor said we had to get him into Boston. The doctor knew a pulmonary doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who he went to Harvard Medical School with, Dr. Adnan Majid. So, we got in an ambulance and headed to Boston.”
After arriving at BIDMC, finding the clot and attempting to dissolve it, and spending time in intensive care, Dr. Majid sent David home. He wanted David to finish chemo and radiation, in hopes the tumor would continue to shrink, before the idea of surgery to remove the cancer was an option.
Before Marcia and David left the hospital, Dr. Majid sent in Dr. Sidhu Gangadharan, Chief of Thoracic Surgery at BIDMC, to meet them.
“He was extremely calm with a wonderful bedside manner,” Marcia says. “He said to us, ‘Let’s get through chemo and radiation, and then we’ll see where we go from there.’”
David’s tumor eventually shrank but before surgery, Dr. Gangadharan wanted to take another step. He wanted to put a filter in to block any more blood clots if they arose. Then, they were ready to do the surgery.
“So on the day of, which turned out to be April 1, he told us, ‘I’ll try my very best’ … and he did,” Marcia adds.
After seven and a half hours, David was out of surgery. Marcia and David’s family was there, anxiously awaiting the news.
“Dr. Gangadharan came out, took me into another room for privacy, and told me it was successful and they got it all. They didn’t have to take his lung, they took his upper lobe. I couldn’t believe it,” Marcia says. “It was meant for us to go into Boston and find some of the best doctors, Dr. Gangadharan and his team. He is the most humble, quiet, soft spoken, nice guy … he never takes credit for what he did.”
Despite this frightening experience, Marcia and David never doubted the outcome of the surgery. It was Dr. Gangadharan’s assurance and sincerity that instilled confidence in them.
“Never once did I think anything bad was going to happen,” Marcia says of her and David’s experience at BIDMC. “You have to have confidence in the hospital, doctors and in yourself. This is a good staff. We always felt that we were very important and respected. Friends call us and ask where to go, and I don’t even hesitate to tell them to go to BIDMC.”
After experiencing cancer firsthand, Marcia and David know how important it is to find a cure.
“Cancer is a scary word … you cringe. That’s why we give a donation. It’s the research and the wonderful doctors that are going to save a lot of lives,” Marcia says. “If someone told me I was going to end up with this guy and go through lung surgery and have him survive, I wouldn’t have believed them. I tell David every day, ‘You have to give back.’”
Earlier this year, David passed his five-year anniversary of being cancer free. He is enjoying the retired life and loves to be outside, do yard work, and play corn hole. Marcia and David, who have always lived in an apartment, also bought their first house and are savoring each moment of their life together.
“David was my first boyfriend when we were younger, then we got together later in life and married in 1997. We were engaged for 17 years, and in eight years, we’ll be married for 25 years. Throughout this entire experience, he never complained. He is the best husband anyone could have. I told him that I didn’t wait all these years for him to give up, and he never did,” Marcia says with joy.
“We try to stay healthy, eat right and exercise. Our family means very much to us … we realize the gift that we were given,” she adds. “Dr. Gangadharan gave David life when there was no hope. So every year on April 1, I send a card to Dr. Gangadharan. Now, we have two anniversaries to celebrate — our wedding day and the day David became cancer free.”
Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.