More than a year since the pandemic gripped the world, it’s rare to hear someone say anything positive about COVID-19. But had it not been for her COVID-19 diagnosis, Brianna Bolden of Shawnee wouldn’t have known she had cancer.
“COVID saved my life.”
Twenty-three-year-old Brianna was diagnosed with COVID-19 after experiencing common cold symptoms. Two weeks into quarantine, Brianna developed shortness of breath and headed to the Olathe Medical Center (OMC) Emergency Care Center.
Emergency care provider Nicholas J. Tarnowski, PA-C, ordered a chest X-ray and CT scan to examine Brianna’s lungs. The imaging revealed a mass.
Omar F. Hasan, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon with Olathe Health Kansas Heart and Lung Surgeons, performed a biopsy, which confirmed that the mass was cancerous. Her care team diagnosed Brianna with Stage I Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.
After her treatment and recovery from COVID-19, Brianna met with her cancer team, including Larry R. Corum, MD, medical oncologist, Kelly L. Rhodes-Stark, MD, radiation oncologist, and Brianna’s primary care physician, Melissa L. Yeats, MD, from Olathe Health Family Medicine – Olathe Medical Park.
“Dr. Corum and his team told me straight up about my diagnosis and helped make a plan for my treatment,” Brianna said. “Dr. Rhodes-Stark and her team treated me like family. They went above and beyond to help me through radiation, which was the hardest part for me.”
“Because it was discovered in its early stages, Brianna’s cancer was easier to treat and gave her a better chance to achieve a full recovery,” Dr. Corum said. “Without the COVID-related imaging she received, there wouldn’t have been a need to examine the lungs of a healthy 23-year-old who wasn’t experiencing symptoms.”
Brianna underwent four chemotherapy treatments, followed by 12 days of radiation. After treatment, doctors confirmed that her cancer was in remission. Brianna continues to receive regular follow-ups to monitor her health.
“I have my energy back, and I am finally back to my bubbly, friendly self,” Brianna said.
“I wanted to share my story, especially for those who might not believe in the virus. I was a healthy 23-year-old with zero health problems. But this cornoavirus saved my life,” Brianna said. “I want to thank everyone at Olathe Medical Center for helping me during the worst time of my life.”