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Former finance director Kristina Krumm, of Brooklyn, loves traveling to exotic locations like Belize and Costa Rica. She is an active, positive person who also enjoys dinner with friends, Pilates and fishing on the Great Lakes. After successful lung cancer surgery at Henry Ford Allegiance Health, Kristina is back to living the life she loves.
Kristina described the months prior to her recovery as “a very bad dream.” Her father passed away from emphysema in November. In February, her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to her brain, and she died one month later. Kristina was overwhelmed with grieving and all that went in to settling her mom’s estate. She had a persistent cough around that time, so she went to her doctor and was given an inhaler, but she didn’t pay it much more attention.
Then, late in May, Kristina experienced pressure in her chest, along with a stomach ache. Her daughter Sarah, thinking Kristina might be having a heart attack, insisted they go to the Henry Ford Allegiance Health Emergency Department. Once there, Kristina was given a series of tests that ruled out heart problems. Because of her cough and the fact that she is a former smoker, a chest x-ray was also ordered for her. It revealed an area of concern in Kristina’s right lung, and pulmonologist Yasser Aleech, M.D., was called in.
Dr. Aleech ordered a pulmonary PET scan that confirmed a large mass. “Dr. Aleech was very kind, and he prepared me for the worst: I might need to have surgery to remove the lung,” Kristina recalled. “I was terrified — especially after having so recently experienced the death of my parents. I spoke with my grief counselor, who explained that my mother’s story doesn’t have to be my story; the two are completely separate.”
Kristina was referred to thoracic surgeon Mohan Kulkarni, M.D., which also eased her anxiety. “He had been one of my mom’s doctors, so I already knew and trusted him. He’s the greatest guy in the world,” Kristina said.
Dr. Kulkarni suspected cancer. He explained that, because of the location of the mass, a biopsy (tissue sampling to check for the presence of cancer cells) is an invasive procedure. He would perform surgery to biopsy the mass and, if necessary, would remove a portion or the entire right lobe — all during the same procedure.
Just three weeks after the initial emergency department visit, Dr. Kulkarni performed the biopsy, which Henry Ford Allegiance Pathology immediately confirmed was cancerous; he then removed the entire upper right lobe of Kristina’s lung.
“The good news, though, is that Dr. Kulkarni was able to remove the entire mass before it had spread beyond my lung,” Kristina said. As a preventive measure, she followed up with chemotherapy at Henry Ford Allegiance Health’s Gayle M. Jacob Cancer Center.
Reflecting on her experience at Henry Ford Allegiance Health, Kristina said, “It couldn’t have been better. I was very impressed with the expertise and professionalism of the entire team — and their promptness in getting things done. The level of support I received was also phenomenal. From patient navigator Lil to the doctors and nurses, everyone showed such concern and compassion.”
Kristina is also grateful for the support of her children — Michael, Amanda and Sarah — and her boyfriend Stephen, who was willing to leave his job to care for her if necessary. “Thankfully, he didn’t have to,” Kristina said.
She is recovering quickly and determined to take more time to enjoy the important people in her life, including three beautiful granddaughters. “We are going to continue ticking items off our bucket list,” she said. “A tour of the national parks may be in my future.”
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