From Chronic Cough to Cancer Diagnosis

By: Winship Cancer Institute
Date: Jan 30, 2023

Dave Lamm is an avid cyclist and regularly pedals 30 to 60 miles on the weekend. During the week, he walks 12,000 to 15,000 steps per day. These would be impressive distances for most people, especially a 62-year-old man. In Dave’s case, you might actually call his athletic prowess a miracle.

In 2020, Dave had “all sorts of scanning, all sorts of scoping done” at various hospitals in Atlanta as he tried to find an answer for his chronic cough. Finally, the medical director at his company suggested he check out Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

“When I came to Emory,” Dave says, “ultimately what they found out was that I had stage-four kidney cancer, and that the cancer on the kidneys had spread to the lungs.”

Information Is Power

Armed with the information he needed, Dave was better able to decide how to proceed. Knowing what he was dealing with, Dave says he was finally able to “begin treatment and get a sense as to how we’re going to go after this.”

Dave’s situation was somewhat complicated because he also had cardiac issues that had to be addressed. He says that when he first arrived at Winship, they thought it was a cardiovascular issue, “so the cardiac team went at it and were very aggressive with their testing—and quickly found that I have a chronic heart condition.”

But that wasn’t the source of the problem. Dave’s cardiologist called his oncologist colleague and ordered more tests. Dave was impressed by the multidisciplinary care he received. “The team approach was fantastic,” he says.

The Team Approach

Dave had a new diagnosis of advanced heart disease and metastatic cancer. “In many places, it would be impossible to walk the fine line between the two,” says his cardio-oncologist, Anant Mandawat, MD, director of Winship’s Cardio-Oncology Center of Excellence. “We are grateful that Dave trusted us with his care. With Winship’s commitment to multidisciplinary care, Dave is doing well and has a new lease on life.”

In fact, Winship’s team approach made a big impression on Dave. “They have national experts here,” he says. “I felt some comfort that I had a team that was very knowledgeable.” Not only that, but he praised their frankness in sharing information with him. “It may not have been what I wanted to hear,” he says, “but what I needed to hear.” He especially appreciated their patience as he repeated questions and tried to digest everything he was hearing.

Two years on, Dave is relishing survivorship. “The course of treatment is working, and I’m pleased to say that,” he says. “It’s not a miracle cure—that you go on this and you’re done. But the cancer is not growing; it’s shrinking. And in that sense, I mean, I feel very blessed.” He adds, “Before, I couldn’t walk six feet. I now walk 12,000 to 15,000 steps a day and don’t run out of breath. Before, I couldn’t finish a sentence without coughing, and now I rarely cough. So I really feel blessed, a second chance on life.”

“Before, I couldn’t walk six feet. I now walk 12,000 to 15,000 steps a day and don’t run out of breath. Before, I couldn’t finish a sentence without coughing, and now I rarely cough. So I really feel blessed, a second chance on life.”

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, gives you access to the latest evidence-based care and clinical trials. Our experienced team sees more than 17,000 new patients each year and delivers comprehensive, personalized care. We offer cancer prevention, detection, treatment, survivorship and support programs to all who have been affected by cancer. To request an appointment, call 888-WINSHIP (946-7447).
Our experienced team sees more than 17,000 new patients each year and delivers comprehensive, personalized care.


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