BY BETHANN KISTNER
Nearly three years ago, Patricia Kranbuhl was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. After participating in a clinical trial at the Upstate Cancer Center, she is symptom free and is now back to doing the things she loves, including traveling the world.
In April 2014, Kranbuhl was excited to be taking her granddaughters on their first trip to New York City to see a Broadway show. “At that time, I had a nagging breathing issue, which I thought was probably asthma,” she said.
Her asthma concern turned out to be a diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer. Kranbuhl was immediately referred to Upstate’s Ajeet Gajra, MD. Gajra explained to Kranbuhl that there was a malignant tumor on her lung, but as the cancer was also in her lymph nodes and blood, surgery was not an option. However, he noted that Upstate was conducting a clinical trial for which she would be a perfect candidate.
For the treatment, Kranbuhl had a port inserted into her chest wall. “Dr. Gajra asked if I wanted to start an IV infusion treatment that day, and I said yes. I wanted to stop the tumor from growing as soon as possible and do whatever I could to eliminate it,” Kranbuhl said. “It took two days to do the first treatment, one afternoon followed by treatment the next morning.”
She credits the staff at the Upstate Cancer Center with helping her with the healing process. “They stayed with me, as they do with all their patients, every step of the way. They were compassionate beyond words. I could not be more grateful for the care that I continue to receive to this day,” she said.
When Kranbuhl received a letter from the Upstate Foundation as part of its annual Doctors’ Day celebration, she wrote a tribute and made a donation in honor of Dr. Gajra and the research that she says extended her life.
While she continues maintenance treatment once a month, Kranbuhl’s love for travel is back on track. “I worked all my life. When I retired, I decided I would take a big trip every year to see the world.”
She enjoys meeting people, experiencing their cultures and learning their histories. Since her diagnosis, Kranbuhl has cruised the Mediterranean on a small boat and visited Cuba and India. Her favorite destination, however, remains her 2014 trip to Africa. “Waking up in the Serengeti was beyond spectacular,” she said.
Both Gajra and Kranbuhl say they are pleased with her progress. Her tumor is undetectable and all tests are stable. Kranbuhl adds: “I listen to Dr. Gajra because I trust him with my life, and I have a lot more traveling yet to do.”
To donate to Friends of Upstate Cancer Center, click here or contact the Upstate Foundation at 315-464-4416.
This article appears in the winter 2017 issue of Cancer Care magazine.