November marks Lung Cancer Awareness Month –a time to raise awareness of the need for more research, innovation and better community understanding of this disease.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. More patients die every year from the disease than from prostate, breast, and colon cancer combined.

More than 90% of people diagnosed with lung cancer do not survive in part because it is found at an advanced stage. Nodules are typically small, deep in the lungs and difficult to reach, making early-stage diagnosis and therapeutic applications difficult.

There are a variety of diagnostic options today for lung cancer, but all have limitations in cost, accuracy, safety or invasiveness. These limitations can lead to false positives, false negatives or side effects such as pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and hemorrhage, which can be serious complications and extend hospital stays.

Patients will now be able to reliably have a less invasive diagnostic procedure, which permits simultaneous tumor staging if necessary.

Facts About Lung Cancer:

  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide
  • More patients die every year from lung cancer than from prostate, breast, and colon cancer combined
  • The lung cancer five-year survival rate is only16.8%
  • Nearly 160,000 people die from lung cancer every year
  • 60% to 65% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers

At Freeman Health System, we are working to increase early detection, improve diagnostics, optimize treatment and accelerate recovery by providing our patients access to the most innovative technologies. The MONARCH® Platform, currently being used by Dr. Pierson, is a new robotic technology designed to transform the diagnosis of lung disease, with the goal of saving lives.

The Monarch Platform is designed to allow an accurate diagnosis without incisions from even the smallest and hardest-to-reach lung nodules –with the hope of catching lung conditions early. “At Freeman, we are excited to be among the first to offer this innovative technology, which uses the latest advances in robotics to diagnose lung conditions –with the least invasive approach for patients,” said Dr. Pierson, Pulmonologist. “Lung cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence –we encourage the community to take an important step to be screened, so that we can find and treat lung cancer before it progresses.”  The MONARCH® Platform has potential to address the limitations of current bronchoscopy approaches by its ability to reach and access lesions that are located far out in the periphery of the lung, and by improved accuracy that comes from robotic technology.

Submitted By:
Grant Pierson, DO
Department of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine
Freeman Lung Institute

The term “epilepsy” derives from the Greek word meaning “to hold or seize.” Terminology and descriptions relating to seizures were first discovered in historic literature dating back to 2500 BC. Deciphered text corroborated a wide belief of the time period – that epilepsy was deemed a manifestation of evil spirits, demon possession, or some supernatural occurrence. For this reason, epilepsy carried a stigma for many centuries.

Today, 65 million people around the world have epilepsy and approximately 1 in 26 people in the U.S. will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime. Epilepsy is diagnosed after a person experiences two or more seizures that are not derived from another medical condition. These seizures are driven by disturbances in the brain’s electrical activity that may be provoked by brain injury, genetics, immune reactions, infections, or metabolic causes. Most often, however, the exact cause is unknown.

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. It is important to highlight how people live with epilepsy, a condition that can complicate everyday tasks such as cooking, driving, attending school, and even sleeping. The onset of a seizure can occur unexpectedly, in any location and during any activity. During a grand mal (generalized tonic-clonic) seizure, sudden falling can put a person at risk for head injury and tongue biting. On the other hand, a petit mal (absence) seizure can cause a person to blank out or stare into space for several seconds, even during a conversation. These most commonly affect children and can go undiagnosed, often with the child facing repercussions at school for daydreaming.

Adults may have a difficult time finding employment, face workplace discrimination, lose driving privileges, or feel a lack of independence. Children may be bullied or excluded from participating in sports. People with epilepsy live with these physical and emotional burdens on a daily basis and must take extra precautions compared to their peers. Raising awareness of these lifestyle differences can help foster more inclusive learning and working communities for people with epilepsy.

On the upside, advances in EEG, antiepileptic drugs, neuroimaging, and neurosurgery have radically improved the medical approach to diagnosing and treating epilepsy. Lastly, learning the basics of “Seizure First Aid” can enable bystanders to help in the event of a seizure. Follow these 3 steps, as outlined by the Epilepsy Foundation:

  1. Stay with the person until they are awake and alert. Time the seizure. Remain calm. Check for a medical ID.
  2.  Keep the person safe. Move them away from harm.
  3. Turn the person onto their side.

Call 911 if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or if the person is injured, pregnant, sick, or has difficulty breathing. Do not attempt to restrain them or put any medications into their mouth. To learn more, visit

Dr. Gulshan Uppal, MD

Elaine Lai


Dr. Uppal is a board-certified neurologist at Freeman NeuroSpine. If you have any questions about epilepsy, headaches, strokes, or other brain health concerns, you can contact Dr. Uppal at Freeman NeuroSpine, 1905 32nd St., Joplin, MO 64804, 417-347-7200.


Joplin, Mo – November is National Family Caregivers Month. More than 65 million people – 29% of the United States population – provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year. According to the Caregiver Action Network (the National Family Caregivers Association), these individuals spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one.

Freeman Health System recognizes the stresses of the responsibility of being a caregiver. Each month, the Freeman Caregiver Support group offers advice and resources. Formed in March of 2021, the group has members from Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. Each month’s meeting includes an educational guest speaker, a question and answer opportunity, and small group discussions that answer participants’ questions or concerns.

“Support group members shared their needs with us when we first started,” said Freeman Community Health Worker Kathy Mason. “They are looking for everything from ways to relieve stress and find time for self-care, to ways to handle hygiene issues and locate aid and assistance for their loved ones. They enjoy being able to share their situations with others who can understand. And they also have some fun with a quick craft or game and a monthly door prize.”

This month, on November 18,  the Freeman Caregiver Support Group welcomes attorney Luke Boyer from the Boyer Law Firm to discuss options for planning a trust or will. He will also talk about the importance of having power of attorney documents.

Facilitated by Ozark Center Assistant Director of Adult Outpatient Services Jennifer Berry, MSW, LCSW, the support group meets from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm at Freeman East conference rooms. Physical distancing and mask wearing are practiced. Refreshments and door prizes are provided.

Please RSVP to Kathy Mason at or call 417.347.8463.

About Freeman Health System

Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2020, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2020-2021. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 80 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit