Patient Stories at NCH

Steve's Story

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CyberKnife targets tumors with extreme accuracy

Sometimes cancer can lurk and grow without causing so much as a headache. Schaumburg resident Steve Nagy learned this truth in 2009 with a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer.

A sales executive for 15 years, Steve one day just started coughing up blood. "I had a tumor in my lung about the size of a plum. I felt fine. I wasn't losing weight. And there I was with lung cancer in its most advanced stage."

While a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treated the tumor in his lung as well as cancer that had spread to his chest and intestine, doctors discovered that a tumor about the size of a pea was lodged in the right frontal lobe of his brain. Stephen Nigh, MD, medical director of Radiation Oncology at Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH), recommended CyberKnife, a technology that uses image-guided robotic radiosurgery to deliver a precisely targeted beam of high-dose radiation to shrink and destroy the tumor.

"The right frontal lobe, among other things, can affect personality," Dr. Nigh says. "In Mr. Nagy's case, we used CyberKnife to focus on the tumor without surgery and without radiation exposure to surrounding, healthy brain tissue. He's now three years out and doing well."

After one treatment, Steve's brain tumor was gone.

Learn about CyberKnife

"In reality, I shouldn't even be here. After six months, people who have stage 4 lung cancer aren't alive any more," Steve says. Three years removed from his cancer diagnosis, he credits NCH with pursuing cancer-fighting technology that gives patients like him a second chance. "I can't say thank you enough to my team at NCH—Drs. Gordon, Mahdavian, Nigh and Pae—plus all the great nurses and staff members. Thank you also to my wife's surgeon at NCH, Dr. Kinney."

In fact, NCH was the first hospital in northern Illinois to offer CyberKnife. Technological expertise, coupled with NCH's three-year accreditation in Radiation Oncology by the American College of Radiology and the American Society for Radiation Oncology, means that patients like Steve are receiving the highest level of care and safety.

"I feel like I got a wake-up call," Steve says. "My life has been extended, and I am happy NCH was able to help me."