CHAMPAIGN – Champaign Mayor Jerry Schweighart said today that a small cancerous tumor was removed from his right lung last week, but that it appears that the cancer was caught early and that his health outlook is good.
"It was a spot or nodule on the lung, and they had to remove that," Schweighart said this morning. "It was cancer, about three centimeters in size. That's not very big." Three centimeters is a little more than an inch.
Schweighart, 67, is recuperating at home after being released from the hospital this weekend. He underwent the surgery Feb. 7 at Carle Foundation Hospital.
Schweighart said the upper one-third of his right lung was removed when doctors realized the spot on his lung was cancer.
He said further tests, which took a few days to complete, showed that the cancer had not spread to his lymph nodes. He said the cancer was classified as Stage 1, the least serious level.
He said his prognosis looks good enough that he isn't slated to undergo chemotherapy or radiation, which many lung cancer patients must endure.
"I've talked to a lot of people who've had this operation and they've lived 10 or 15 years," said Schweighart, a lifelong smoker who said he gave up the habit around Christmas.
The mayor said he's feeling OK, but that he's still sore from the operation. A cough he's recently developed is painful, he said.
"It'll take me a while to build strength," he said.
Schweighart said his first physical in about 30 years helped reveal the cancer. He said his doctor pressed him to get a physical and that his cholesterol and prostate tests came back with good results. He said his doctor then asked him to get a chest X-ray.
The X-ray revealed he had pneumonia and showed the spot on his lung and two spots in his stomach. The spots in his stomach turned out to be nothing, he said.
The December bout with pneumonia set him back physically, Schweighart said, more than the cancer operation.
"Physically, I feel good," he said. "Better than I did coming off the pneumonia. The pneumonia sapped me of energy."
Schweighart said he wasn't planning to attend tonight's city council meeting, but that he hopes to be back in the mayor's chair next week. He's already been spending some time in his office at the Champaign City Building.