Lynn Dixon’s attention to detail has proven to be a life-saver.
Lynn, an oncology clinical trial research nurse on DeKalb Medical Center’s cancer team, was going through the very rigorous process last August of determining whether a patient was suitable for a breast cancer trial.
She was closely reviewing the patient’s medical history, lab work, imaging results and reports on her previous cancers to determine the patient’s eligibility.
In the reports, she saw something abnormal had been detected on the patient’s kidneys.
“That is when I started diving in,” Lynn said.
Doctors had determined that one kidney had a fatty cyst, not a major concern and not grounds for ruling the patient ineligible for the trials.
But what about the other, Lynn wondered?
“She was not going to let that go,” said co-worker Dena Horton, who nominated her. “She said I want to take it another step.”
Lynn discussed the questionable finding with the oncologist who asked a urologist to look further. An MRI, then biopsy was ordered. The biopsy confirmed the presence of a malignant tumor on the second kidney, something that immediately disqualified the patient from the trial.
“There was no mistake,” Lynn said. “It just needed a second set of eyes.”
Lynn, who is herself a survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, hated for the patient to have to deal with a second cancer.
“I’m personally aware how a diagnosis changes your life completely,” she said. “You are never the same.”
But the great news was that the kidney cancer was caught early and treated by removing a portion of the organ, Lynn said.
“Thanks to Lynn’s careful attention to detail, the patient was not put on a trial that she would not have been eligible for,” Dena said.
“And most importantly, Lynn saved this patient’s life by getting her early and appropriate treatment for the new cancer.”
Lynn has a “very calming quality” and goes above and beyond to help others, Dena said.
“She is very caring, not only with her co-workers, but with our cancer patients, especially when they are having a difficult time,” Dena said.
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