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Just before Christmas 2015, Priscilla Charron faced the toughest health challenge of her life. Diagnosed with a highly treatable form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Charron went straight into fight mode. She underwent six rounds of chemotherapy under the guidance of NorthShore Hematologist Lynne Kaminer, MD. The results were strong, with the cancer in remission.
But last November, the 58-year-old Evanston woman was hit with another pre-holiday health scare. A follow-up CT scan revealed a spot on her left lung, leaving Charron with a frightening sense of déjà vu. Could it be the cancer returning?
Leading-Edge Technology Concerned about the new lung nodule, Dr. Kaminer referred her anxious patient to Keenan Hawkins, MD, Director of NorthShore’s Advanced Pulmonary Diagnostics Program. This innovative program—among the first its kind in the northern suburbs—offers patients state-of-the-art technology for image-guided, minimally invasive procedures to investigate a range of chest abnormalities, including this suspicious nodule.
“I needed answers quickly,” Charron recalled. “My kids were coming home in a couple of weeks for Christmas and I thought to myself, ‘I can’t do this to them again.’” She immediately felt at ease with Dr. Hawkins, who explained everything very clearly. “He was calm and reassuring,” she said.
“Our advanced bronchoscopic equipment is designed to find hard-to-reach lung lesions,” explained Dr. Hawkins, who is board-certified in both pulmonary and critical care medicine. He, along with Dr. Kaminer, also hold academic appointments at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.
Definitive Diagnosis without Surgery Through a minimally invasive outpatient procedure, Dr. Hawkins determined that Charron’s lung nodule was benign—the result of a prior infection and not a sign of cancer recurrence. “It’s very gratifying to help patients like Priscilla get the answers they need and provide peace of mind,” said Dr. Hawkins. “The advanced technology we have at NorthShore is a real benefit to patients,” he explained, pointing to improved patient safety, diagnostic accuracy and potentially avoiding unnecessary surgical procedures.
“Getting that report from Dr. Hawkins was the best gift of all,” said Charron. “If that procedure had not been successful, I might have needed more invasive surgery and, frankly, I wasn’t sure I had anything left in my positive reserves.
“The good news is that I’m still in remission,” she added. “I’m fortunate and grateful that I’ve had so many good people on my healthcare team.”