Negative COVID-19 Test Leads To Utah Man’s Cancer Diagnosis

Mar 19, 2021, 6:30 PM | Updated: 8:36 pm

FARMINGTON, Utah – Many of us have experienced annoying cold symptoms that seem to linger. For a Utah man, those symptoms turned out to be serious and getting tested for COVID-19 saved his life.

For a tree to bear fruit, it has to be pruned. “These are red delicious,” said Scott Vance, 62, while he pruned branches from the apple tree in his backyard in Farmington.

“Everything that’s sticking straight up is not going to do you any good. It looks like it’s had a pretty good haircut when I get done usually,” he said.

Sometimes, we forget to care for ourselves. “It got to where I was losing energy, lack of stamina,” Vance said.

His cough started last March. “I didn’t think it was anything more than a seasonal flu,” Vance said.

He ignored it until a coworker got exposed to COVID-19. “We figured, ‘Well maybe we better all go get checked,’” Vance said.

His boss shut down the office for two days and Vance got tested.

“The first thing she did was put an oxygen meter on my finger. And she said, ‘Oh, you’ve got low oxygen,’” he said.

The news was not good. “They called me a half an hour later as I was eating breakfast and said, ‘You need to go to the emergency room. You might have COVID,'” Vance said.

But it wasn’t COVID-19. “He said, ‘Oh. Ooh. This might be cancer,’” Vance said.

It was indeed lung cancer, and it was bad. “It was stage IV. It had metastasized to the bones and brain — it’s all over,” Vance said.

Scott Vance and his wife, Ann Vance, were shocked to learn his nagging cough was lung cancer. (KSL TV) Scott had been exposed to COVID-19 and got tested. Though that test was negative, it led to him getting the proper diagnosis. (KSL TV)

His wife, Ann Vance, said, “We were both in a state of shock, I think. It took a while to sink in, but then it was just like, ‘OK, how are we going to get through this?'”

Dr. Sonam Puri, a specialist in medical oncology at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, said Scott Vance, who had never smoked, got cancer from a common genetic mutation. “We actually have the lowest incidence of tobacco use in the nation,” said Puri, who is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology at the University of Utah. “But still, lung cancer is the biggest cause of cancer-related death in our in our state.”

Thankfully, it’s treatable with a new medication. “Yeah, what a blessing. Within a week, I could feel a difference,” Scott Vance said.

Vance said his COVID-19 scare was a blessing. “Otherwise, I’d probably be dead on the couch waiting, ‘Tomorrow would be better,'” he said.

“Oh yeah, we kinda joke that like, his boss saved his life, because the road he was going down, it did not have a good ending,” his wife added.

Puri urged everyone to listen to their bodies. “It might not be anything, and that’s good, but if it’s something, it could save your life,” she said.

Vance now takes each day in stride. “Now, I can walk three (to) four miles a day and I look forward to those walks because it makes me feel really good,” he said.

As he picked up branches from the lawn, he lives on for a fresh crop, the brand new ‘apple of his eye,’ his granddaughter, Zoey.

“I’ll take tomorrow. Be glad for tomorrow,” he said.

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Negative COVID-19 Test Leads To Utah Man’s Cancer Diagnosis