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(PHOENIX – Nov. 8, 2019) – A 71-year-old Glendale resident is back to work and looking forward to celebrating another Veteran’s Day after having cancer removed from both his lungs in a robotic operation at Norton Thoracic Institute, which is part of Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Central Phoenix.
Ron Curtis, a former United States Marine and Vietnam Veteran, has survived prostate cancer, skin cancer and, now, lung cancer.
“My wife tells me I’m a walking miracle,” says Curtis, a professional welder who now works in the steel tubing industry. Curtis served for the Marine Corps from 1967 to 1970.
After a lung cancer screening CT scan revealed cancer in both lungs, Curtis was told that he wasn’t a surgical candidate, and that with a short time to live, palliative care seemed his best option. That’s when Curtis sought a second opinion from Samad Hashimi, MD, a thoracic surgeon at St. Joseph’s Norton Thoracic Institute.
Dr. Hashimi and the team at Norton reevaluated Curtis’ diagnosis, revealing he would be a good candidate for surgery after all. Dr. Hashimi performed the robotic procedure earlier this year. Four days after surgery, Curtis left the hospital tumor free, and he returned to work just five weeks after that.
In a minimally invasive procedure, the physician makes small incisions in the chest and maneuvers miniature surgical instruments through these incisions to remove the tumor. Although this involves more incisions than in a typical lung cancer operation, they are smaller and allow patients to recover quicker.
“Minimally invasive surgery allows a wide range of benefits for our patients,” Dr. Hashimi says. “Patients who undergo minimally invasive procedures have smaller incisions and less damage to surrounding tissue, so they often experience less scarring, less postoperative pain and a shorter hospital stay.”
Curtis says he would recommend the robotic procedure to anyone facing a lung operation. “It is so amazing,” Curtis says. “You’re not getting any ribs broken. They’re not cutting you open.”
“If Dr. Hashimi was a restaurant, I would give him seven stars,” Curtis says.
When he’s not working, Curtis can be found on a golf course or working out. His only post-operative concession, he says, is that he no longer lifts weights.
“Once a Marine, always a Marine,” Curtis says.