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Free Lung Screening Saves Grateful Patient’s Life

Laughter fills the hospital room as Dan McLaughlin, lung cancer survivor and would-be comedian, dryly delivers a one-liner to the nurses that he’s come to know and love over the past three years.

But it wasn’t all smiles and laughs back in 2016 when Dan was diagnosed with the disease. It all started when he received a letter from Jefferson Torresdale Hospital advertising a free meeting on health issues, cancer screenings for high-risk individuals, and end-of-life care discussions. Rather bleak subject matter, but subject matter that would save his life.

A lifelong smoker, Dan opted to receive the free lung screening; on December 2, 2016, he was diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer.

“I was a smoker for 61 years,” he says, pausing, feeling the weight of all those years upon him.

A cancer diagnosis is scary for any patient, but McLaughlin rolled with the punches and began looking into next steps. After discussing his options, including seeing a specialist, Dan decided to seek his care at Jefferson.

“I decided to go for the surgery,” McLaughlin recalls.

He underwent robotic lung surgery at the Torresdale campus on February 2, 2017, to remove a quarter of his lung to stop the cancer from spreading. While Dan still suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from a lifetime of smoking, he has since managed to kick the habit with the help of the dedicated staff at Jefferson’s Tobacco Dependence program.

“The hospital saved my life by offering a free screening, and I am very grateful,” Dan says, tears welling up in his eyes as he recalls his journey from diagnoses to recovery. His tears are immediately met with “Aw, Dan,” and “You’re doing great,” and other reassurances as the nurses comfort him.

Then, like a switch being flipped, he is all laughter and smiles again.

Dan returns to Jefferson annually to receive follow-up screenings. Every year since his surgery, the tests have come back negative. Dan is cancer-free and attributes his survival to Jefferson’s dedicated staff of doctors and nurses, who not only cared for his medical needs, but his emotional ones too.  

“I always enjoy meeting with the staff,” he says. “Every time I see these folks, I am very put at ease.”