Faith and science sustaining recovering Newton lung cancer patient

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 5:40 PM CDT
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NEWTON, Texas (KTRE) - A persistent cough, thought to be allergies by some doctors, turned out to be the first sign of lung cancer for a Newton woman. The non-smoker was as persistent as the symptom when it came to listening to her body.

With some persuasion, Nancy Ebarb sang All Is Well With My Soul with her husband.

For Ebarb sustaining the notes to a favorite hymn is the merging of science and faith.

“I have so many friends, family members that have just surrounded me with prayer,” the retired school teacher said.

One of those friends led the woman with Stage 4 lung cancer to Nacogdoches Medical Center oncologist Dr. Mathews George. He gave the woman who had never smoked a day in her life a fighting chance.

“He said,’ If you want somebody that’s going to sugar coat it, that’s not me,” recalled Ebarb.

“Lo and behold, she had a marker called a BRAF mutation,” said Dr. George.

Something seen in only 4% of lung cancer patients.

“We as oncologists really have the unenviable job of giving bad news and when we give bad news it’s really bad,” said Dr. George.

But hope often enters the discussion.

“Fortunately, we had medications that could target this mutation and stop the lung cancer in its tracks,” said George.

Ebarb takes pills at home with impressive results. Which brings us back to Ebarb’s faith.

“That God is good in the bad times as well as the good,” said Ebarb. “Because I’ve shared the times I was so sick I can’t get out of bed and then the times that we get a PET scan and it says all of that is gone.”

Cancer and COVID-19 restrictions prevented Ebarb from singing in her church choir. Singing in Palm Sunday and Easter services truly let Ebarb believe, ‘All Is Well’.

According to the National Institutes of Health about 10 – 15% of all lung cancers arise in never-smokers. And, women are more susceptible than men. Research says, there is surprisingly little information available as to why this happens.

During Women’s Health Week Nancy Ebarb and Dr. Mathews George advise East Texans to not delay care. A simple screening could save your life.

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