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Sherman Doctor, Patient Discuss Cancer Triumph to Spread Health Message

Publication: KXII-TV (CBS), Sherman

SHERMAN, Texas -- February 4th is 'World Cancer Day,' and serves as an educational tool in the fight against cancer. That holds true in Sherman, Texas, where a doctor and his patient discuss the meaning of being a cancer survivor.

"When I swallowed it felt like something was stuck in my throat, it didn't hurt, I didn't have a sore throat, it just felt like something was there," 60-year-old Suzie Puana recalled.

What Puana didn't know at the time, but quickly found out in September 2013, was that lump she felt was stage three Laryngeal Cancer.

It was caused by 42 years of smoking.

"33 radiation treatments, 7 chemotherapy treatments, over the course of 2 months," she said of her treatment.

Puana was treated at Texas oncology in Sherman by Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Anand Shivnani.

"We hope that patients never have to come to us," Shivnani said, "That they have a healthy lifestyle and never develop cancer in the first place."

Since 1991, there's been a 22 percent decrease in the number of cancer-related deaths -- that's thanks to good health, fewer people smoking and routine screenings, which leads to earlier detection.

But still..

"The leading cause of cancer death is Lung Cancer and on top of that is smoking," he said.

In a study, The American Cancer Society reports that if more people quit smoking and maintain a healthy weight, that percentage could jump up to a 40 percent decrease within the next 20 years.

"Dr. Shivnani, he's a wonderful doctor, very nice man -- he's honest," Puana said. "And when he says if you don't quit, it's going to kill you, I don't think he said it to make me feel bad."

Instead, she said, he said it because it was true.

So she did. She quit smoking after more than four decades of cigarettes.

"That was probably the most gratifying thing for me as a physician is to see someone do everything that we ask them to do in terms of quitting and today she remains cancer free because of it," Shivnani said.

"When she gave me this [shirt], it took me three days to get the smile off my face," Puana said, referring to her 'I can fight cancer shirt' that she received when she entered remission.

"It's incredible. It really is. It's incredible the feeling that you get," she said.

Shivnani shared five health tips for possibly avoiding cancer:

1. Maintain a healthy weight
2. Eat nutrient-rich food
3. Exercise regularly
4. Get your age-appropriate cancer screenings
5. Practice 'sun safety' by avoiding excessive sun exposure


This story originally appeared on KXII-TV (CBS, Sherman). To view this story, please click here.

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