Hagerstown woman puts the Shady Grove Adventist Hospital cancer team in her corner
Danielle Nigh never smoked a day in her life. Yet, she was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer at the age of 37.
“When you hear ‘stage IV lung cancer,’ it’s like the worst thing you can hear,” recalls the Hagerstown resident, now 46. “I was shocked. I was a nonsmoker. I was healthy, never really sick. But it can happen.”
Smoking is by far the leading cause of lung cancer, but the American Cancer Society says about 15 percent of lung cancers develop in people who never smoked. Two-thirds of nonsmokers who get lung cancer are women.
In Nigh’s case, a persistent cough sent her to a pulmonologist, who ordered a CT scan. The reading detected a suspicious mass in her chest. During her biopsy, a thoracic surgeon opted to remove her left upper lung.
After recovering from surgery, Nigh met with medical oncologist Joseph Haggerty, MD, chair of cancer care at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. They discussed her treatment options. He helped arm her with the knowledge— and hope—to fight the disease. That included putting the right cancer care team in her corner. For Nigh, it was the comprehensive team at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.
“You can fight it, you can beat it, you can win,” Nigh says. “You need to have the right cancer care team behind you. If you do, it makes all the difference in the world.”
It’s been 10 years since her first diagnosis. Twice more over the years, Nigh found herself battling cancer, when it spread to her brain and spine. As a result, her hair no longer grows. With a multidisciplinary treatment course of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, and the support of her family, friends and caregivers, Nigh has been cancer-free for seven years.
“I couldn’t have received any better care at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital,” she says. “The nurses were wonderful. I knew the radiologists, I knew the doctors. The care was just fantastic.”