GREEN BAY, Wis., (WFRV) – When Green Bay’s Jane McLeod retired last June, she was looking forward to getting back out and enjoying life after the last few years dealing with the pandemic. 

“Just to get out,” McLeod said. “Been cooped for so many years.” 

But when she started coughing and having trouble breathing, McLeod knew instinctively it was something more than the common cold. 

“It didn’t feel right. I knew there was something wrong,” she said. 

Mcleod’s retirement isn’t going quite as she had planned. 

“So, you haven’t even been retired a year?” asked Local 5’s Connie Fellman. 

“No! Then I get this,” McLeod replied. 

“This” is a tiny nodule in her right lung. Doctors found it on a computerized tomography or CT (CAT) scan of her lungs. 

“It was concerning about the possibility of early cancer,” said Dr. Raul Mendoza, a pulmonologist with Aurora BayCare. “With her particular history we believed that pursuing diagnosis was very important.” 

Mcleod had no family history of lung cancer, but Mendoza says her history as a smoker put her at high risk. 

“Risks for lung cancer, 95 percent is cigarette smoking,” Mendoza said, adding other risk factors; such as earlier history of cancer, family history of lung cancer and exposure to radon, especially in old homes. 

Mendoza wanted a diagnosis fast. 

“Time makes a difference with lung cancer,” he said. “The earlier you make the diagnosis, the higher the chances of cure.” 

Fortunately, Mendoza had the latest technology available to do a robotic bronchoscopy – a precision technique which allows doctors to pinpoint the exact location of even the tiniest mass. 

“With a robot, we create a map using her CAT scan,” Mendoza explained. “We confirm that the needle biopsy was exactly in the right position and then we have the diagnosis.” 

Mendoza compares the procedure to navigation technology we’re all familiar with. 

“We create a map using the address, like Google Maps,” he said. 

He says the standard method of using a CT scan alone can get doctors close, but the disparity in what the CT scan shows and what’s happening in real time can make isolating the exact location of a tumor difficult. 

“You are on the street, but you cannot find the house,” explained Mendoza. 

The robotic bronchoscopy brings you right to the front door, leading to a quicker diagnosis, which ultimately means a better prognosis. 

“In her case, based on the information we have there is a very, very, very good chance that her cancer will be cured,” said Mendoza. 

By surgically removing McLeod’s tumor at this early stage, Mendoza says she’ll likely be spared from having to undergo radiation or chemotherapy. 

“It just a miracle that they found something like that,” McLeod remarked. 

As relieved as she is about her positive prognosis for lung cancer, McLeod jokingly admits the idea of sitting down to talk about it in front of a TV camera brings up a whole new medical concern. 

“My blood pressure right now is about 210!” she chuckled, as the interview wrapped up. 

McLeod’s lung cancer is one of the smallest detected using bronchoscopic biopsy and one of the earliest to be detected with all the technologies existing. 

Mendoza says Aurora BayCare was the first hospital in Wisconsin to offer the combined procedure of robotic bronchoscopy with CT scan to diagnose lung cancer sooner without invasive surgery. He says it will soon be the standard of care for every patient. 

For more information go to to take an online health assessment. 

You can also reach out by phone at 1-866-938-0035 or email: healthwatch@aurorabaycare.Com