Christine Deuchler never thought too much about the need for health screenings — until one saved her life. Now she is a huge advocate.
A recent lung cancer screening found her lungs were fine but identified a mass in her breast. A mammogram — another important screening — then confirmed masses in her lymph nodes as well. Following a biopsy, she had a lumpectomy to remove them and soon will start chemotherapy.
“It literally saved my life,” Christine says of the screening. Her cancer was identified as stage 3. “In a few months, it could have been stage 4,” she says.
Cancer found ‘by accident’
Christine hadn’t seen a doctor since hers retired in 2021. In May she saw Jessica Kass, MD, a RUSH family physician who sees patients in Aurora. Christine mentioned that she felt some pain and pressure near her heart with certain movements. She thought she might have a heart problem.
After learning Christine’s history — she was a former smoker and both of her parents had died from lung cancer — Kass recommended a CT lung cancer screening.
The screening identified her breast cancer, which was too deep to be felt by manual self-exams.
“It’s so important to do yearly tests,” Christine now advises. She’d had a mammogram right before her doctor retired.
“Don’t put it off. Five minutes can change your life,” she emphasizes. “I’m not the fondest of hospitals or doctors and even more terrified of needles, but I’m thankful I did it this time because I wouldn’t be here if I had not. My cancer was found by accident. I am considered an ‘incidental’ due to my breast cancer being found by a lung screening. I am so thankful to radiologist Robert Palmer, who noticed the mass, and also to the Lord for being with me.”
A positive person, Christine is determined to have a good recovery because she has so much more life to live. Calling her cancer a “bump in the road that needs to be crossed over,” she says, “If anyone reading this article takes away just one thing from it, please let it be that a quick, very easy 5-minute screening test can save your life. I am living proof.”
An easy test
Christine is telling everyone she knows to get screened. In many cases, insurance will cover the cost. If it does not, she believes the out-of-pocket cost for the test is worth paying.
“Screenings save lives,” Kass says. “They detect health problems early when they can be more easily treated.” She recommends a number of screenings for her patients, depending on their age and health history. And she encourages everyone to see a health care provider regularly.
But she also stresses the importance of listening to your body. “If you feel any signs or symptoms, don’t ignore them,” she says. “Let your provider know what you’re experiencing.”
Sharing her symptoms with her doctor led Christine to the screening that detected her cancer. Now she is happy to share her story to encourage others to get screened.
“It could save somebody’s life,” she says, “and I hope that’s what happens.”