You Inspire The Best in Us.

With the many advances in care and treatments, today’s patients have more and more reasons to expect the best outcomes. Here are the incredible stories of our patients and their journeys. Click on a thumbnail and scroll down to view each story.

  • Personal Cancer Care Close to Home
  • Sharmeika McDuffie Cancer Journey
  • Sarah Duby & Stuart Snow
  • Sharmeika McDuffie & Robin Aiken
  • Leigh Anna Driggers & Rebekka Taylor
  • Navigating to Earlier Detection
    of Lung Cancer
  • New Option Improves Cancer Treatment
  • Placing the Patient at the Center of Lung Cancer Care
  • Audrey Gilbert
  • April Munn
  • Ginger Godfree and Johnny Echols
  • Lynn Harrelson and Willie Vereen
  • A Journey to Encourage Others
  • The Path to Remission
  • 17 Reasons Why
  • McLeod Health Cancer Center
  • McLeod Cancer Center
  • Harry Moran
  • Doctor Hazelwood
  • Grace DuBose
  • Burnadene Kelley-Newman
  • Lisa Sims
  • Roddy Huntley
  • Kimberly Hyman
  • Zenobia Perkins
  • Strength in Numbers
  • Journey from Heart Disease to Cancer: A Life Saved
  • Cancer is a Word Not a Sentence
  • Advanced Treatment for a Silent Killer
  • Jammie Muldrow
  • Sarah DuBose
  • Randy Altman
  • Mildred Welch & Temple Dyson
  • Kerstin Nemec
  • Jennifer Almers
  • Cary Andrews
  • Together We Can Endure Through HOPE
  • McLeod Cancer Physicians
  • Evening of HOPE Closing Video
  • Targeting Nerve Pain with Precision
  • The Hope Fund
  • Journey to Hope
  • John Braddy
  • Jane Blum
  • Robby Roberson
  • Leslie Denton
  • Harry Cantey
  • Conni Singletary
  • Stephanie Benjamin
  • Leon Rogers
  • Kathy Campbell
  • Carolyn Gary
  • Audrey Gilbert
  • Deborah Mackey
    Living Life to the Fullest
  • Carolyn Bellamy
    Keeping the Faith

Placing the Patient at the Center of Lung Cancer Care

By Tracy H. Stanton

In 2015, Fred Ham’s primary care physician, Dr. Cory Smith, recommended he undergo a low-dose CT screening for lung cancer. A farmer all his life and a smoker since his days in the Army, 74-year-old Fred agreed to the test. In fact, every June for the next five years Fred returned to McLeod for the annual screening.

McLeod Health established the Lung Cancer Screening Program to detect lung cancer earlier and save lives through the use of low-dose lung CT scans in 2014. Since then, the program has expanded to include three dedicated nurse navigators, a lung nodule clinic, patient conferences with multiple specialists and innovative treatment options.

In June 2020, Fred’s annual CT scan resulted in a recommendation from the McLeod Lung Cancer Screening Team that he undergo another CT in three months.

Following this screening scan, the team recommended a PET (positron emission tomography) scan. This test uses radioactive tracers to detect early signs of cancer and other diseases.

Fred’s PET scan indicated a potentially cancerous lung nodule and a referral was made to Dr. Vinod Jona, a McLeod Pulmonologist. After meeting with Fred, Dr. Jona scheduled a navigational bronchoscopy with endobronchial ultrasound to stage the cancerous lung nodule. Fred also underwent pulmonary function tests.

At the time, Fred was one of the first patients to participate in the McLeod Lung Nodule Clinic. Dr. Jona explained the clinic was established to evaluate and monitor those patients who have been screened for lung cancer and a pulmonary nodule was detected, or those who had a nodule found incidentally as a result of a lung CT scan after a car accident, pneumonia or injury. “This clinic enables us to determine the patient’s risk of developing lung cancer and ensure they receive high quality care and follow the evidence-based guidelines.”


  • Prompt scheduling of initial visit
  • On-site Radiologist with same day interpretation
  • Timely assessment, diagnosis and recommendations
  • Management of follow-up visits
  • Coordination of care with multiple specialists
  • Ongoing communication with referring physicians
  • Patient education

Each clinic patient receives complete testing and consultation with a physician to determine the best course of action for them, all in one visit.

This simplifies things for the patient while maximizing early detection of disease and minimizing unnecessary medical or surgical procedures.

“Any lung nodule patient who is referred to our program is first evaluated by the Lung Nodule Clinic Nurse Navigator Ainsleigh Brown who reviews their history and CT scans,” said Dr. Jona.


  • Assessment by a Nurse Navigator
  • Examination by a Pulmonologist (lung specialist)
  • Diagnostic imaging if required along with a breathing test
  • Development of a plan


In addition to Brown, patients also have access to two other specially trained nurse navigators: Beth Epps, the Lung Cancer Nurse Navigator, and Amy Perugini, the Lung Cancer Screening Navigator. These three McLeod Nurse Navigators guide patients through the often complicated process of their medical care from initial screening and detection, to diagnosis and treatment, and on through to recovery and rehabilitation.

“Understanding that decisions are best made when the patient and family are involved, we now invite our lung nodule patients to participate in a conference with providers from multiple specialties before they may ever be diagnosed with lung cancer,” said
Dr. Jona. “We offer this through a virtual platform for the convenience of our patients.”

During the conference, physicians review the pertinent history, imaging scans, diagnostic studies, and pathology, and develop a plan appropriate for the patient.

Fred and his family participated in the first multidisciplinary rounds in late October 2020. “We were at my daughter Rose’s house and the doctors were talking to me while my daughters compiled the information,” said Fred about the virtual exchange.

After hearing the recommendations of the medical team, Fred chose radiation treatment to eliminate his Stage I lung cancer. Beginning in early November 2020, he underwent eight rounds of stereotactic body radiation therapy at the McLeod Cancer Center.

“The patient benefits by having easy access to all of these experts at one time as well as the opportunity to ask questions,” added Dr. Jona. “This close communication enhances the patient’s care and the management of their disease. The patient remains at the center of what we do, and this team mindset gives us an opportunity to deliver the most advanced, effective treatment available to patients diagnosed with lung cancer.”

A year later, Fred encourages others to be proactive and have the screening if recommended by their provider.

“I am very happy I got the screening all those years,” said Fred. “I want to help anyone I can by telling them about my experience.”

For more information on the McLeod Lung Cancer Screening Program, please call 843-777-5953. To contact the McLeod Lung Nodule Clinic, please call 843-777-7878.