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Surviving Stage IV Lung Cancer

When an Employee Becomes a Patient

It all started when Paul Shoun suddenly couldn’t walk.

Paul, a paralegal in the Office of General Counsel (OGC) who has worked for Northwestern Medicine for 23 years, went to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Emergency Department in June 2017. His inability to use his right leg and foot started as tripping and had quickly gotten worse. He couldn’t foresee what would happen next.

Stage IV Lung Cancer

Paul is thankful for his warning signs and could have never predicted that what started as inexplicable tripping would lead to a serious diagnosis: stage IV lung cancer that had spread to his brain. He had brain surgery four days later and did not go home for a month.

“It was a gift it all happened so fast because I didn’t have time to worry or think too much about it,” says Paul.

Paul’s neurological surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital was Matthew C. Tate, MD, of Northwestern Medicine Lou and Jean Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. After a 10-day stay at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Paul was transferred to the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab to learn to walk again.

Recovery From Brain Surgery

Paul’s goal was to get back to his three-story building so he could walk up the 87 stairs to his home. Or as he puts it, “My goal was that I was walking out of the hospital.” He says his rehabilitation experience was humbling and taught him a lesson in gratitude. He gained great perspective and felt extremely lucky – even with cancer.

Today, Paul still receives chemotherapy every three weeks at Lurie Cancer Center under the direction of his oncologist, Young Kwang Chae, MD, and his pulmonologist, Angela C. Argento, MD. He has a great support system, and he is happy to be alive. He is back to his Pilates classes, making home improvements, singing with the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus and traveling the world with friends.

To raise awareness of lung cancer, Paul’s colleagues participated in the American Lung Association 2017 LUNG FORCE Walk in his honor. In 2018, Paul was able to participate in the walk himself with a group of friends, and he raised $6,200 — the second highest fundraiser at the event.

Lung Cancer Risk and Symptoms

Though Paul smoked years ago, any number of factors could have contributed to his diagnosis because anyone can get lung cancer. Lung cancer can go undiagnosed for a long time because symptoms can be vague and attributed to other health issues.

See if you are at risk for lung cancer and know the symptoms. If you have a high risk of lung cancer, you may be a candidate for low-dose CT lung cancer screening.