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Joining the Team

Mike Gates says actively partnering with his doctors helped him make a crucial catch

Successfully navigating health challenges takes a team. Just ask Mike Gates of Renton, who beat lung cancer in 2019. Confronting cancer meant partnering with his healthcare team and actively participating in the process, he said. “Don’t rely on others to follow up. It’s your body, it’s your job.”

When Mike began noticing chest pain and shortness of breath a few years ago, he quickly reached out to his primary care provider Juliet Bliss, DO. “I’m pretty proactive about my health, so I asked my family doctor if she could order blood tests and a lung X-ray. The X-ray showed some shadowing in my lung, so I was referred to a pulmonologist, who then ordered a CAT scan.”

The dark shadow turned out to be a suspicious growth in his lung, but it didn’t require treatment just yet. Instead, his care team recommended yearly scans to monitor its growth. In 2019, Mike’s annual screening revealed that the growth had darkened, and additional tests confirmed a diagnosis of early-stage lung cancer.

Mike’s care team, including Virginia Mason Franciscan Health pulmonologist Frederick D Troncales, MD, and thoracic surgeon Baiya Krishnadasan, MD, mapped out a treatment plan to restore Mike’s health. In July 2019, Dr. Krishnadasan performed surgery to remove the cancerous lung tissue.

Now cancer-free, Mike wants others to know that cancer screening isn’t something to fear. “The doctors are professionals, and they’re committed to discovering these things early so they can treat them. It's not that hard to do your part,” he said. “Just follow the steps: When you get your physical, if you feel any issues, ask for some tests. Your doctor will be happy to do it. You can also ask if you’re a candidate for screening based on your age or your health profile.”

The avid Seahawks fan credits his crucial catch to a proactive approach, backed by an expert team of physicians. “I believe I was lucky,” he continued. “I could have waited to get checked, and people do get busy in life…but your health is your wealth. I’ve got nine grandkids, four adult children, and a wife I’ve been with since 1975. It’s just a relief for all the people I love who rely on me.”