October 02, 2019
A little pain and a routine checkup with her primary care physician in mid-July 2015 led to an unexpected journey for Margaret "Peg" Miller of Lamar, Missouri. When visiting with her internal medicine doctor, Erik Miller, DO – who also is her son – she mentioned that she'd been experiencing some pain in her side. She then received the usual tests, including a CT scan and blood work.
When the results came back with bad news, Peg was referred to The University of Kansas Cancer Center for further examination. A PET scan showed a tumor in her right lung. Peg then received a biopsy, and she was initially diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer. She learned it would require surgery.
Thoracic surgeon Nirmal Veeramachaneni, MD, removed part of the upper lobe of Peg’s right lung where the tumor was located. As part of the surgery, he also extracted some plaque from her lungs and sent it for testing. Although he expected the plaque test to come back with a benign result, pathologists determined that the plaque was malignant. Peg’s diagnosis was changed to the more advanced stage 4.
Peg’s care team expanded to include medical oncologist Prakash Neupane, MD, who created a treatment plan calling for a 4-dose series of chemotherapy. Once the 4 sessions are complete, tests will evaluate how well the treatment has worked and if additional doses of chemotherapy are necessary.
From the very beginning, I had a nurse navigator who not only was knowledgeable, but she was also caring and compassionate. It's a very scary process, but it helps to have a single contact person you can call with questions. –Margaret "Peg" MillerLung cancer survivor
Peg's faith comes from a long history of being a Christian and the trust she has in her expert care team. "I knew I was going to be healed when I went to The University of Kansas Cancer Center," she says. "But I know I have a journey to take."
"Dr. Veeramachaneni is the top in his field,” Peg says. “He is so good, kind and compassionate. And he was always approachable and available. The entire staff is permeated by compassion. Every area of expertise is focused on patient comfort and convenience – from the food service options to the nurse navigator to the cleaning crew to the doctors and nurses. The whole environment promotes healing. I cannot find enough words to express my appreciation to all of them."
With 2 sons in the medical profession, Peg has been impressed with the care her physicians and nurses took in listening to her.
“Any time you have a problem, they fix it,” she says.
In addition to Dr. Erik Miller, her primary care physician in Lamar, Peg’s other son is Kirk Miller, DO, a radiologist at The University of Kansas Health System.
Peg also has special praise for the nurse navigator service that the cancer center provides.
"From the very beginning, I had a nurse navigator who not only was knowledgeable, but she was also caring and compassionate. She walked me through every step of the way and was in constant contact. It's a very scary process, but it helps to have a single contact person you can call with questions," she says.
At 72, Peg still has a lot of living to do and values spending time with her 3 sons and 6 grandchildren.
"I just want to be a light that shines so cancer is a defeated foe,” she says. Through her belief in God, she feels blessed to “share the news of the valuable resource of care that is available at The University of Kansas Cancer Center."
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