Kay and I have been keeping a good friend in our hearts and thoughts as she’s bravely dealt with health challenges for about 10 months. All the while, our friend has managed to keep doing what she does as a family practitioner, seeing to the medical needs of her patients at John Peter Smith’s clinics in the Fort Worth area.
I’ve known Dr. Carolyn Lea Scott since 1982, when we were students at Texas A&M. You see, she and I were a couple for nine years until we split up in 1991, just as she was graduating from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and I was into my fifth year in the Sports department at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Later, after her internship and residency that included rotations at the old St. Paul Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital, Carolyn went into the Air Force for four years to repay the scholarship that put her through med school.
We’ve remained friends since, although we haven’t stayed in close touch. These past few months, we have.
Last fall, Carolyn discovered a lump under her left armpit, determined to be a connective tissue sarcoma. She underwent surgery to remove it, and as a precaution, she also had a mastectomy. Carolyn’s mother, a nonsmoker, died of lung cancer when Carolyn was a teenager in tiny Clyde, Texas, and as a doctor, she knows not to take any chances.
Her cancer was found not to have metastasized, but Carolyn and her treatment team decided it would be best for her to have chemotherapy, followed by radiation. She did several rounds of chemo that involved a few days in the hospital followed by two-week breaks; those continued until spring.
Fairly early in her chemo course — before the vaccines became available — Carolyn became sick with COVID-19. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for her to experience the debilitating effects of both chemo and COVID at the same time. She ended up cutting chemo a round short and decided against radiation because the chemo and COVID had taken so much out of her.
As if she hadn’t been through enough, Carolyn learned in early summer that she has a tumor on her right upper lung. Fortunately, it hasn’t grown much, and she spent several weeks consulting with doctors to determine what kind of surgical approach should be taken to remove it. For now, the cancer appears confined to that area.
So, on Wednesday, the day of Carolyn’s surgery, Kay and I will be thinking about and pulling for her. Carolyn tells me the plan is for a wedge resection to remove the portion of the lung where the growth is. It will be done robotically by a cardiothoracic surgeon, and she’ll probably have radiation treatments afterward.
Some of my friends who were also my colleagues back in the day at the Star-Telegram may remember Carolyn, as will my friends who also worked with me at The Battalion, the Texas A&M student newspaper, during my senior year in 1982-83. Please keep her in your thoughts Wednesday and going forward, and let’s pray this cancer is the last she’ll have to mess with. At 60, she has a lot of patients still to care for before hanging up her stethoscope.
By the way, these photos of Carolyn were taken by me in the spring of ’83 at a park in College Station. I took JOUR 315, a photojournalism class, that semester, and I shot anything and everything I could see through the viewfinder of the Pentax 35mm camera I kept checked out. Not surprisingly, Carolyn was my patient and willing subject more than a few times.