Surviving Cancer and Improving the Odds for Others
By Baptist Health Foundation
Dennis Bookshester didn't think much about the annoying cold that was dogging him. But his wife, Karen, didn't like the sound of it. "We had just moved here and didn't have a doctor at that point. We heard about the urgent care centers run by Baptist Health, so we went there." Mr. Bookshester figured he would quickly put his wife's concerns to rest. Iinstead, what happened next changed his life. Following a chest X-ray and a CT scan, he found out he had a lung tumor.
A retired business titan who ran Fortune 500 companies, Mr. Bookshester was no stranger to dealing with crisis, but he felt uncertain about what to do next. That is, until he met Mark Dylewski, M.D., chair of the thoracic oncology tumor site team and medical director of general and robotic thoracic surgery at Miami Cancer Institute. Dr. Dylewski offered the option of immediately removing the mass to determine if it was malignant. A biopsy conducted while Mr. Bookshester was under anesthesia confirmed it was cancer. Dr. Dylewski removed the lower third of his right lung during the same robotic procedure. That was in 2013, and Mr. Bookshester, 77, remains cancer-free.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, taking more lives annually than colorectal, breast, and pancreatic cancer combined. As in many cancers, the chances of surviving improve dramatically if it is detected early. Mr. Bookshester credits Dr. Dylewski with saving his life by catching the cancer at an early stage. The experience prompted him to become an enthusiastic supporter of Baptist Health. He and his wife are Century Club members at Baptist Health Foundation and Mr. Bookshester serves on the Foundation's Miami Cancer Institute Capital Campaign Cabinet. To help others who might have undetected lung cancer, Mr. Bookshester donated $100,000 to help launch Baptist Health's lung CT scan program, which has grown to the fifth largest in the country. Among the more than 2,000 scans that have been performed so far, more than 80 cases of lung cancer have been found. Dr. Dylewski has the greatest respect for Mr. Bookshester's determination to help others by supporting Miami Cancer Institute and making screenings more accessible. "He wants to make a difference," said Dr. Dylewski, "His own experience with cancer is what motivates him."