Oklahoma City woman credits cutting-edge surgery after surviving two forms of cancer

OKLAHOMA CITY - Imagine thinking you're near the end of your battle with cancer and with your body already taking a beating form surgery, chemo and radiation - the cancer returns in a completely different form.

That's the situation one Oklahoma City woman found herself in - but a more simple, less-invasive surgery made her next fight seem far less daunting.

That cutting-edge option is right here in Oklahoma.

Kathy Shaw raised a family, became a grandmother and was just starting a new life with a wonderful new man.
But the life she was coming to know was threatened when a stage-two breast cancer diagnosis stopped her in her tracks.

"I was in disbelief," Shaw said.

After a bilateral mastectomy, four rounds of chemo and 30 rounds of radiation, she thought she was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
That is - until a visit with her oncologist before one of her final surgeries about half a year later.

"He said 'By the way, you may have lung cancer,'" Shaw recalled.

Shaw had never smoked, practiced healthy eating habits and stayed active her entire life but was diagnosed with lung cancer.
And here she was again facing another surgery.
It would be an intense one, with a large incision, the spreading of her ribs to access the lungs and a lengthy hospital stay and recovery.

Shaw said she was "not at all" physically prepared for another surgery like that.

But little did she know - there was another option.
After a call with a family friend in the medical field - a new hope.
A surgery called Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery - or VATS.
It required just three incisions - and way less downtime.

"And she said if you can't find anyone in Oklahoma come to Cleveland and my team will do the surgery," Shaw said.

But she didn't have to go all the way to Ohio.
As it turns out there are two doctors who perform this minimally invasive lung cancer surgery in the state of Oklahoma.
Both of them - at OU Medicine.

"We make little incisions, go in the chest with a camera and use the instruments to take out the lobe," said Matthew Reinersman, M.D., who performed Shaw's surgery. "Those patients we have them up, walking even the night of surgery and we get them out of the hospital sometimes as soon as the next day."

Sounds too good to be true, right?
Not for Kathy.
She trusted the hands operating on her.

"Faith in him and faith in God," Kathy said.

On September 5th, 2018 Shaw went into surgery.
It took two hours.
She went home two days later.
In addition to her scars from surviving breast cancer, Kathy now has three new smaller, lighter colored new scars ranging from an inch and a half to three inches long.

"Those are my badges of courage," Shaw said. "You can just call me 'Old Scarface' because I have quite a few of them."

Shaw says through all her struggles four primary things have got her through.
Her faith, her favorite sweatshirt that reads "I am a woman of faith, a warrior of Christ I am the storm."

Along with her family and her beloved husband Michael - who she calls her rock.

"I won't say that I couldn't have done this on my own because I'm a pretty strong person but he made the process so much easier and all the love he's given me," Shaw said.

Now 8 months after surgery and cancer-free, Kathy still hasn't regained all of her energy, but one thing she has never lost is her will to fight.

"My daddy used to tell me I had a stubborn streak about a mile wide up my back and I am putting it to good use," she said.

About 20% of women with lung cancer are non-smokers - just like Kathy.

The best news here - doctors say Shaw's prognosis is "excellent."

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