'Early detection': Woman diagnosed with lung cancer says preventative procedure likely saved her life

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Woman With Cancer Says Preventative Procedure Likely Saved Her Life

WEST BEND, Wis. (WITI) -- No one told her to do it -- but a West Bend woman who took her health into her own hands and opted for a preventative procedure says it likely saved her life. Doctors agree the decision gave her more than a fighting chance. The procedure came in advance of her cancer diagnosis.

Diane Dricken-Flynn is a West Bend fixture. She has operated "Reflections By the River," a hair salon in West Bend, since 1990. The hair salon is located inside the roller mill her late father bought and rebuilt.

"He was a forward-thinking man," Dricken-Flynn said.

Her father may be the reason why Dricken-Flynn is so outgoing.

"The first thing of course is the hair and the service that they're there for. The other beauty of it is getting to know somebody and caring about them," Dricken-Flynn said.

Woman says preventive screening saved her life
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'Early detection': Woman diagnosed with lung cancer says preventative procedure likely saved her life
Photo courtesy: WITI
Photo courtesy: WITI
Photo courtesy: WITI

Earlier this year, Dricken-Flynn, a wife and mother of three, found out she was going to need care. Doctors found a
malignant nodule on her lung. Her three young daughters would soon learn their mother had cancer.

"For myself, just life-changing when you here the 'C' word," Dricken-Flynn said.

"I had no idea what it meant. I basically thought it was a death sentence at the time. I had to break down myself because I couldn't imagine my life without her," Dricken-Flynn's daughter Lisa said.

Dricken-Flynn was a heavy smoker for most of her life, but quit a few years back.

She says it was faith, and early detection that saved her life.

"When my primary physician called me, he said, you know, 'there's a nodule in the upper-right lobe and it has grown and is speculated,' which you don't want to hear that word because it means that it has little fingers and it was already invasive," Dricken-Flynn said.

Prompted by her life-long smoking habit, Dricken-Flynn says she's been getting CAT scans every few years. The nodule doctors found was small and slow growing.

Unfortunately, Dricken-Flynn says she's in the minority when it comes to cancer patients.

"Fifteen percent of lung cancers fall into my category -- an early CT detection. Only fifteen percent of lung cancers are me," Dricken-Flynn said.

But Dricken-Flynn says it doesn't have to be that way if more people opt for CT scans and schedule them before experiencing symptoms.

"By the time you have symptoms with lung cancer, it has already spread to the rest of your body -- meaning it's too late," Dricken-Flynn said.

Doctors at University of Wisconsin hospitals in Madison removed one-third of Dricken-Flynn's lung. Because of advancements in thoracic medicine and the small size of the cancer, Dricken-Flynn was back at her salon only days later -- ready to talk about their experience.

"You look at the statistics of lung cancer -- you run to your doctor and get a CT scan and you do it because it`s the only thing that will save your life," Dricken-Flynn said.

Now, Dricken-Flynn, her life nearly cut short by cancer, is on an enduring mission to help others live longer.

Diane Dricken-Flynn says she credits the thoracic surgeons at UW Hospital and Clinics. She says doctors have given her encouraging news about recovery. She has another CT scan scheduled for this fall.

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