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Anka - Lung Cancer

Anka - Lung Cancer

West Seattle native Anka Milenkovic-Bobo has always had seasonal allergies, including allergy-induced asthma, but when her breathing difficulties and cough didn’t improve after a year despite inhalers, her doctor suggested they conduct some additional testing.

An X-ray and CT scan revealed a lump in her lung just as COVID made access to care more complicated. After a biopsy confirmed a localized adenocarcinoma, Anka researched various cancer centers in the area. Drawn to SCCA for its clinical expertise and reputation, Anka reached out to Dr. Jing Zeng, a thoracic radiation oncologist and the Proton Center’s medical director, for a consultation. She knew she wanted to pursue proton therapy as her first treatment option, especially when she learned that her cancer was right next to a major artery. With such a difficult surgery ahead of her, Anka was concerned that she would have to give up her active lifestyle. Fortunately, proton therapy with its more targeted approach was a viable alternative to traditional radiation.

 “We believe in arming our patients with knowledge about all the treatment options available to them so they can choose what is best suited to their wishes and priorities,” Dr. Zeng says. “I am glad Anka found a treatment she was comfortable pursuing.”

Anka’s first several post-treatment CT scans have looked clear, and Anka is confident in the treatment plan developed by her doctor. “Dr. Zeng is so down-to-earth and a good communicator,” says Anka. “She explains everything well, and I feel like I come out of every appointment with her with more knowledge.”

Still, proton therapy wasn’t easy. The radiation burned Anka’s chest and left her extremely tired. But she avoided other common radiation side effects such as blisters and esophagitis. She was able to continue her work as an operations manager the entire time and scheduled her treatment appointments for the end of the day, when she could go home afterwards to a network of family and good friends who supported her throughout the journey.

Though she can’t yet go back to the Slavic dances she used to do, Anka has resumed walking with her friends and lifting weights to build muscle mass. She can mow the lawn over the span of two days. Though some scar tissue in the lung is making it harder to breathe, she’s reminding herself that it takes time to get back to normal. “Where I am right now is pretty doggone good,” she concludes.