SPARTANBURG — Beverly Felman thought she had the flu.
A bad cough plagued Beverly and she was so tired she couldn’t get out of bed.
“My family couldn’t keep me out of bed for anything,” she said. “I would try to get up and do things but it wouldn’t be long until I was right back in bed.”
Finally her chest started hurting badly and she went to the doctor, where she was told that she had pneumonia. After taking antibiotics, Beverly still didn’t feel any better and went back to the doctor, where she was told she had bronchitis.
Something told Beverly that her illness was more serious.
“I told my husband that something was very wrong,” she said. “I thought I had cancer, because it runs in my family, but I didn’t want to go to the doctor.”
After a trip to the emergency center at Spartanburg Medical Center in June 2014, Beverly, 51, was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma in her left lung.
“I was devastated. I lost my father and brother in 2013 to cancer within a month of each other,” she said. “My five children and 13 grandkids kept going through my mind. I didn’t want them to lose their grandmother.”
Beverly went through six months of chemotherapy and then began 10 sessions of radiation to the left lung and brain. Small cell carcinoma often travels to the brain, so radiation was delivered to the brain to lower the chances of Beverly’s cancer spreading.
“My husband took me back and forth to Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute and stayed with me during my treatments,” she said. “My children rallied around me and helped me get through it. They kept on me about eating to get my strength up. They were there for courage.”
Finding her faith again also helped Beverly through her battle with cancer after her daughter got her involved with a church.
After her treatment ended, Beverly was on several inhalers to help with her breathing. Today she doesn’t need any of them. Now cancer free, Beverly is spending time with her grandchildren, making up for the time she lost during the summer of 2014 while she was sick.
“I got a second chance at life and now try to do more with my family and go to the playground with my grandkids,” she said. “I feel better and my lungs are healing up. I can walk more and farther and I have more breath. You take a lot for granted. Cancer changed my life and you look at things in a brighter way. Each day isn’t really promised.”
So how can you protect yourself?
There are ways to create a healthier lifestyle and prevent further damage to your lungs:
• Don’t smoke.
• Maintain a healthy diet.
• Test your home for radon.
• Know what you are being exposed to in the workplace.
• Keep away from secondhand smoke.
When should I see a doctor?
• A cough that does not go away or gets worse
• Chest pain that is often made worse with deep breathing, coughing or laughing
• Weight loss and loss of appetite
• Coughing up blood or rust-colored mucous
• Shortness of breath
• Feeling tired or weak
• Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that keep coming back or don’t go away at all
Lung Cancer Awareness Month is recognized in November. For more information on lung cancer or how to be screened, call 1-855-DNA-GIBBS.
About Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute
Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute is a nationally recognized cancer treatment and research facility associated with the National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Center program and the Medical University of South Carolina. Named for benefactors Marsha and Jimmy Gibbs and with locations in Spartanburg, Gaffney and Greer, Gibbs is a proven leader in providing effective cancer treatment through advanced technology, professional expertise and an exceptional level of personalized care. Gibbs’ oncology program, which also includes the Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health, has been recognized by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons as offering high-quality cancer care. In 2012, Gibbs joined forces with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System to expand world-class oncology services and clinical research in the Upstate. In 2013, the Gibbs expanded its research efforts by opening a 7,500-square-foot state-of-the-art facility at Pelham Medical Center.
About Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System
Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) offers a full spectrum of services through four hospitals: Spartanburg Medical Center, Pelham Medical Center, Spartanburg Hospital for Restorative Care and Union Medical Center. SRHS also includes Ellen Sagar Nursing Center, 113-bed long-term care, skilled nursing facility that offers nursing care and rehabilitation services. SRHS provides unparalleled oncological care through the Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute. The multidisciplinary Medical Group of the Carolinas has more than 300 physicians across seven counties in two states. SRHS employs nearly 6,000 associates and offers outpatient surgery centers, a vibrant post-acute division, a Level I Trauma Center, and Advicare, a licensed Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Advicare provides Medicaid services to residents throughout the state of South Carolina. U.S. News and World Report ranked Spartanburg Medical Center the No. 1 regional hospital in South Carolina in 2014-15. The Commission on Cancer gave Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute its Outstanding Achievement Award.
This story was submitted by the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.