Celebrating World Lung Cancer Day

Today I celebrate World Lung Cancer Day.

Lung cancer claims more lives than any other cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Yet the survival rate and funding dollars per death are lower for lung cancer than for those cancers (and almost all other cancers). The CDC lists lung cancer (not breast cancer) as the leading cause of cancer death among women.

Lung cancer deserves more research funding. Anyone who has lungs can get lung cancer. About 60% of newly-diagnosed lung cancer patients are non-smokers or never smokers, and lung cancer in never-smokers ranks among the top 10 fatal cancers in the USA. And, regardless of one’s habits or behaviors, NO ONE deserves to die of lung cancer.

Already more metastatic lung cancer patients like me are living longer thanks to targeted therapies, maintenance chemo, and changes in standard of care. Lung cancer statistics will continue to improve as more patients start to benefit from upcoming early detection methods (like CT screenings and biomarker testing), improvements in treatment options, and an increased national focus on lung cancer research.

Here’s hoping for more successful treatment options for all lung cancer patients, and a cure in my lifetime — which means SOON.

LUNGevity announces its 2013 Research Awards

I received the information below in a news release email from LUNGevity today. It’s encouraging to see the research undertaken for lung cancer patients, especially research related to the KRAS mutation (for which few therapies currently exist), lung cancer resistant to radiation therapy, and acquired resistance to targeted therapies (like Tarceva).


LUNGevity is proud to announce our 2013 Research Awards!

New LUNGevity awards are enabling promising research into managing lung cancer treatment more effectively, as well as preventing the disease in high-risk populations.

Six exceptional researchers have received 2013 LUNGevity Lung Cancer Research Awards. They join a community of brilliant LUNGevity-funded scientists across the country who are working to help people with lung cancer live longer and better.


2013 Career Development Awards for Translational Research were made to the following researchers.

Timothy Burns, MD, PhD, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, is working on targeted therapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with mutations in a gene called KRAS, using a new class of drugs.

David Kozono, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, will identify which genetic types of lung cancer are the most resistant to radiation, and which of these may be best treated with a combination of radiation and bortezomib, a drug already FDA-approved for another type of cancer.

Meredith Tennis, PhD, University of Colorado Denver, will identify biomarkers that signal whether a patient is likely to benefit from iloprost and pioglitazone, two drugs that have demonstrated promise in reducing NSCLC risk, and whether they work in a clinical trial setting.


2013 Targeted Therapeutics Awards for Translational Research were made to the following researchers.

Balazs Halmos, MD, Columbia University Medical Center, is working on a way to increase the effectiveness of radiation and chemotherapy that could also lead to personalized NSCLC treatments, especially for the third of all lung cancer patients with locally advanced lung cancer.

Lecia V. Sequist, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, will develop models that explain how NSCLC patients can acquire drug resistance to targeted therapies after a period of initial successful treatment, leading to the development of new treatments to help patient overcome the drug resistance.

Frank J. Slack, PhD, Yale University, is studying the KRAS-variant, a recently discovered KRAS mutation found in over 20% of NSCLC patients, which has been shown to predict a patient’s response to cancer treatment. His research aims to confirm the role of the KRAS-variant to direct cancer therapy for lung cancer patients and as a potential future target for therapy.


The work of these talented researchers will help ensure continued progress in fighting lung cancer. Special thanks to Genentech and our other donors for their support of the LUNGevity Scientific Research Awards Program. Read more about these exciting projects. In addition to these awards, LUNGevity will announce funding for awards through its Early Detection Awards Program later this year. Please stay tuned!

It’s My Cancerversary — And I’m Choosing to Live

Today is my cancerversary. Two years ago on this date, I was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.

While my current status is No Evidence of Disease, I know the cancer is still lurking in my body; it’s only being suppressed (not cured) by the targeted drug crizotinib.

I’ve felt myself sliding towards depression this week. I know from past experience what depression feels like, and I do not want to go there again. I suspect subconcious awareness of my cancerversary is part of the reason. Physical discomfort due to treatment side effects (especially hand pain), steroid-induced excess weight and a newly-diagnosed partial hamstring tear aren’t helping matters. It also bugs me that fatigue has kept me from being as supportive as I’d like when my husband recently had cataract surgery.

When I woke up this morning, I realized that somehow, sometime, I had adopted a victim mentality. I have been passively accepting the crap that my body was handing me. That is simply not acceptable.

True, the cancer ain’t gone, but neither am I! Through no small effort of many people, including myself, I am alive. I am not going to waste the gift.

I can’t choose not to have cancer, but I CAN choose how I want to feel about it. Today, I choose to feel empowered and hopeful.

I can’t choose not to have side effects, but I CAN choose not to let the discomforts of my body keep me from exercising. Exercise makes a huge difference in my mood. Today, I choose to go swimming for the first time in years.

I can’t choose not to be fatigued, but I CAN choose how I react when the irritability rises unbidden. Today, I choose to hold my tongue and listen for understanding.

Today, my cancerversary commemorates not just the start of my cancer battle, but my renewed efforts to LIVE.

To celebrate, I bought new underwear. Take THAT, cancer! 😛