‘I just thought it was just allergies’: Cancer survivor urges others to consider risk factors ahead of World Lung Cancer Day

Miami Valley News

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – August 1 is World Lung Cancer Day, and one Miami Valley survivor is reminding people that annual check ups are critical to saving lives.

Seventy-five year old cancer survivor and Mercy Health Patient, Thomas Geiger, said when he went to have testing done following a bad cough, he wasn’t expecting the diagnosis to be serious.

“It came back positive and I had lung cancer,” he said. “And that was kind of a shock because I never smoked.”

Geiger said the diagnosis caught him off guard because other than a persistent cough, he didn’t have any other symptoms he thought he’d experience with a cancer diagnosis.

“I just thought it was allergies,” he said.

“Then he passed out,” added his wife, Linda Geiger.

But Angela Wagner, registered nurse with Mercy Health, said patients often don’t experience symptoms that they would expect to be indicative of cancer.

“Just like in Tom’s case, you don’t always have to be a smoker to get lung cancer and you don’t have to have symptoms,” she said. I think that’s the biggest misconception as well. ‘If I have cancer, I’m going to know.’ Especially with lung cancer — the early stages of lung cancer, you might not have any symptoms, except for that nagging cough. And lung cancer is mainly diagnosed when it is stage four. And then you can just treat it, whereas if you catch it early on, in stage one or even stage two, patients can have surgery to help remove the cancer.”

Geiger said in his case, the malignant tumor on his lung had been growing for more than a year before it was diagnosed by a medical professional. He said he had sought treatment previously, but was told that the tumor was instead, scar tissue. For that reason, he said he advises anyone who has worries about their health to start asking questions early and get a second opinion if they aren’t comfortable with the answers they are receiving.

“If you have a little nagging cough like I did, get it checked out,” he said.

“Or at least have a test every year,” his wife Linda added. “Have your medical professional do a physical every year…It’s not going to hurt anything.

They also said people should pay closer attention to their genetics to determine the likelihood of certain diseases. Geiger said his father and his siblings had been diagnosed with cancer, a risk factor he wishes he would’ve taken into consideration earlier.

Nurse Wagner added after age 55, seniors should be getting routine lung cancer screenings annually.

To learn more about World Cancer Day, click here.

To learn more about Mercy Health’s Cancer Care and Oncology Center, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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