Lung Cancer Survivor to Give Thanks With Every Step During Stephenson Cancer Center’s Outpace Cancer Event

When Carla Prothro takes part in the Outpace Cancer run/walk on Oct. 6, she plans for every step to serve as thanks for Stephenson Cancer Center physicians and nurses who gave her a second chance at life.

Prothro, who lives in Tulsa, is among many patients, family, friends and OU Health employees who will take part in the second Outpace Cancer event, which raises money for cancer research and patient support at Stephenson Cancer Center. Prothro, who is a lung cancer survivor, said she was determined to fight against her Stage 4 cancer, and she credits thoracic surgeon Matthew Reinersman, M.D., with giving her the opportunity to win the battle.

“The Outpace Cancer race gives me a chance to remember why I’m able to participate – because of the care I received at Stephenson Cancer Center and from Dr. Reinersman,” she said.

Prothro’s journey with lung cancer began in March 2018, when she learned she had a tennis ball-sized tumor in the left upper lobe of her lung. Her determination to find the best care began by talking with her sister, who works at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She received a second opinion from Mayo physicians, who recommended that she return to Oklahoma to see Reinersman, who completed his residency training at Mayo.

She did, and has never looked back. Prothro’s cancer was confirmed, but she also learned that it had spread to her right lung. Reinersman, working with her oncologist in Tulsa, created a treatment plan: She would undergo chemotherapy with immunotherapy, followed by radiation to the nodule on her right lung. Then she would have surgery to remove the cancer in her left lung.

“Carla is very vibrant and strong – she is a fighter,” Reinersman said. “She wanted to do whatever it took to get rid of the cancer and beat it in any possible way that she could. I assured her that we would think outside the box. If patients are good candidates and in good shape, and they want to pursue aggressive treatment, we are going to figure out a way to help them.”

Prothro made it through four months of chemotherapy and radiation, fueled by the belief that she was taking steps toward becoming cancer-free. When the day of the surgery arrived, she was nervous but determined to keep moving forward.

“I was fearful of the surgery; I’d never had surgery in my life,” she said. “But I knew I was in very good hands, literally. I trusted everything Dr. Reinersman told me. And now I’m here and doing great. It’s been an incredible journey.”

Prothro is not only walking in Outpace Cancer, but she’s raising money and inviting her family, who supported her along the way, to take steps alongside her. Each person participating and each dollar raised creates a brighter future for cancer patients, Reinersman said.

“Cancer research may sound like a generic thing, but that’s the way we can really make a difference,” he said. “Research is the way we have been able to bring about new and exciting drugs and treatments that have really helped people. “

Outpace Cancer registration, race routes and more information, including volunteer opportunities can be found at