45-Year Smoker Encourages Community to Take Action during Lung Cancer Awareness Month
Billings, MT - In 2020 alone, over 228,000 people have been diagnosed with lung cancer, with nearly 90 percent of these cases due to smoking history. St. Vincent Healthcare takes pride in providing the safest and highest quality of care in the region for our cancer patients and for the privilege to be at their side throughout their journeys.
For Mary Krenzler, 64, of Billings, the holidays may be a little hectic, but they warm her heart because of the time she gets to spend with her children and grandchildren. As a born and raised Billings native, she is at the center of a large family, where her nine grandchildren mean the world.
Krenzler’s life took a turn on July 28, 2020, when she was diagnosed with non-small cell carcinoma. Krenzler’s primary care provider at SCL Health Medical Group - Internal Medicine, Dr. Edward Matlers, was Mary’s saving grace, as he was the first to recommend that she see a pulmonologist to get screened for lung cancer because she was a 45-year smoker and was at a high risk.
“The most important decisions a person can make every day is what they put into their body. That includes food and possible unhealthy substances like alcohol and nicotine,” said Dr. Malters. “The longer we overindulge or use harmful chemicals, the risk of health consequences increases. However, it’s usually not too late to make a change and could save your life. This can include eliminating these substances and following up with your primary care provider.”
The patient-physician relationship that Krenzler and Dr. Malters have is one that has been developed over nearly 20 years. Because of Dr. Malter’s recommendation, Mary saw pulmonologist Dr. Frederick Kahn, who identified non-small cell cancer in Mary’s right lung through a low-dose CT scan. On August 7, surgeon, Jeffery Rentz removed her right lung’s middle lobe, which extracted the then-malignant growth.
Now, just four months after her diagnosis, she can continue living life to the fullest because of the outstanding care that she received from her caregivers and the support of her friends, family, and community.
“We all know that cancer isn’t always beatable, so every individual needs to have a physician that they see regularly,” she said. “Listen to what your doctors recommend and follow through. I have had wonderful doctors, and I couldn’t ask for better.”
Like Krenzler, you may be eligible for a low-dose CT scan if you meet the following criteria: age 55-77, have a 30 pack year smoking history, are a current smoker or have smoked in the past 15 years and have no prior signs or symptoms of lung cancer.
If you have questions about this lung screening exam, contact your primary care provider or visit sclhealth.org/mt-primarycare.
SCL Health is a faith-based, nonprofit healthcare organization dedicated to improving the health of the people and communities we serve. Founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth in 1864, our health network provides comprehensive, coordinated care through eight hospitals, more than 180 physician clinics, home health, hospice, mental health, and safety-net services in Colorado and the Montana Wyoming region.