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Cyndy’s Story: Lung Check Finds Cancer at Early Stage

Cyndy Johnson of Monticello was shocked to find what felt like soreness turned out to be lung cancer.

“I didn’t really think of lung cancer going in, I thought somehow or another I bruised my ribs,” Johnson recalled.

She went to Jones Regional Medical Center Urgent Care – Anamosa when she had difficulty sleeping.

“The pain felt as if somebody took a two by four and slapped me on the ribs with it. That was on the side that I slept on so I couldn’t get any sleep.”

During the visit to Urgent Care a chest x-ray showed a mass in Johnson’s right lung. A chest CT scan was recommended for further evaluation.

Johnson’s primary care provider ordered a chest CT scan which showed a 19 mm lung nodule. She was referred to the Lung Nodule Clinic where she saw Dr. Hamad Azam, UnityPoint Clinic pulmonologist.

Ion Bronchoscopy: A New Life-saving Technology

Dr. Azam performed a biopsy with with the Ion Endoluminal Robotic Bronchoscopy System. The Ion is a new, minimally invasive option for lung biopsies. It uses a robot-assisted surgical tool that allows physicians to obtain tissue samples within the lung and help diagnose lung cancer earlier. St. Luke’s is the only hospital in Cedar Rapids to offer this new technology.

“The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed and treated, the greater the chance of survival,” said Dr. Azam. “We are extremely excited to offer this lifesaving technology, which will help aid us in our patient care.”

The biopsy confirmed Johnson had lung cancer. About a month later, Johnson had a right upper lobectomy and lymph node dissection with Dr. Garry Weide, St. Luke’s Hospital cardiothoracic surgeon, to remove the cancer.

Reduce Your Risk: Quit Smoking

Johnson has a history of smoking. She would smoke up to a pack a day for about 30 years, but since kicked the habit.

Johnson is familiar with lung cancer. Her father had it twice.

“This is quite a bit different than him,” she said. “He was a heavy smoker, and he was coughing. I didn’t have the same symptoms he had.”

After the procedure to remove her cancer, Johnson says she is back to her usual self, and is glad her care team caught her cancer early.

Get Screened

For more information about Lung Check, talk to your primary care provider or visit If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, or any type of cancer, the Nassif Community Cancer Center is here for you. For more information on their extensive offering of support services, call (319) 558-4876 or visit

Podcast Episode: Lung Cancer Screening



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