Ron Curtis

Ron Curtis, shown in a recent photo, had cancer removed from both his lungs in a robotic operation.

Ron Curtis, a 71-year-old Glendale resident and veteran, is back to work after having cancer removed from both his lungs in a robotic operation at Norton Thoracic Institute, part of Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Central Phoenix.

Curtis, a former United States Marine and a Vietnam Veteran, has survived prostate cancer, skin cancer and, now, lung cancer.

“My wife tells me I’m a walking miracle,” said Curtis, a welder who works in the steel tubing industry. Curtis served for the Marine Corps from 1967 to 1970.

After a lung cancer screening CT scan revealed cancer in both lungs, Curtis was told he wasn’t a surgical candidate and had a short time to live. That’s when Curtis sought a second opinion from Samad Hashimi, a thoracic surgeon at St. Joseph’s Norton Thoracic Institute.

Dr. Hashimi reevaluated Curtis’ diagnosis, revealing he would be a good candidate for surgery after all. He performed the robotic procedure earlier this year. Four days after surgery, Curtis left the hospital tumor-free. He returned to work just five weeks later.

In a minimally invasive procedure, the physician makes small incisions in the chest and maneuvers miniature surgical instruments through these incisions to remove the tumor. Although this involves more incisions than in a typical lung cancer operation, they are smaller and allow patients to recover quicker.

Curtis says he would recommend the robotic procedure to anyone facing a lung operation. “It is so amazing,” Curtis says. “You’re not getting any ribs broken. They’re not cutting you open.”