Greg Corbin's Crucial Catch

A 2016 health scare — a benign adrenal gland tumor that required surgery — prompted 73-year-old Greg Corbin to begin taking better care of himself. The self-described heavy drinker and smoker threw out his vodka and cigarettes without looking back. “I haven’t had a drink or a cigarette since that surgery in 2016,” he said.

Taking care of his health meant getting yearly low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans to screen for lung cancer, something Greg had never considered before. To his surprise, the scan was quick, simple, and painless. “Lung cancer screening is just about the easiest thing anyone could do,” Greg said. “It’s done in under 15 minutes, and you keep your clothing on. There’s nothing invasive or uncomfortable about it. I could fall asleep during a scan!”

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His yearly scans were normal until 2019, when he was diagnosed with stage 1A lung cancer in his left lung. The good news: His cancer had been detected at an early stage and had not spread to any other organs.

Greg met with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health thoracic surgeon Thomas Templin II, MD, FACS to discuss his treatment options. He chose surgery to remove the cancerous tissue from his lung and began planning for the procedure with Dr. Templin. The surgery, which took place at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma on May 7, 2020, removed about a fifth of his lung capacity, Greg said. But the payoff was peace of mind.

Now recovered from surgery, Greg enjoys fishing, farming, and cheering for the Seahawks from his 13-acre property bordering the Deschutes River near Olympia, Washington. “I had inaugural season tickets in 1976, but raising a family kept me too busy to go to many games,” said the retired heating and cooling technician. Thanks to his crucial catch, he hopes to be around for many seasons to come.

Catching cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat, means not waiting for symptoms to show, Greg said. “I had no indication of any health problems, and I felt fine. I never would have known I had cancer, and I never would have had the screening if it wasn’t offered to me.”

“If you’ve ever smoked, lung cancer screening is just the right thing to do,” he added. But even those who never smoked can request a scan. “Recently, I lost a childhood friend to stage 4 lung cancer. She didn’t smoke, so she didn’t think she needed to get tested. But what a difference if she would have gotten a CT scan.”