Research saves lives and I am LIVING proof!
One year before I was diagnosed in July 2016 the current targeted therapy helping me to live a full life and thrive while living was not yet available to patients. I don't even want to think about the pain and heartache I would have experienced just 1 year earlier. After failing on the original therapy, losing weight, having no energy and almost giving up on hope (almost) I was given the opportunity to try a newly approved second line treatment. A treatment that was discovered through clinical research which was only made possible by the generous contributions of individuals and corporations who would NOT take giving up as an answer.
Below is my story which gives insight into the important work of the Lung Cancer Research Foundation. Together we CAN WIN The Day, every day, and provide encouragement and hope for each and every one of us who didn't ask for this fight but are doing everything we can to educate, motivate and inspire. Anything we can do to WIN The Day!
I still remember being stunned when my doctor told me the annoying cough I was experiencing was a symptom of lung cancer. I thought, You’ve got the wrong chart, this can’t be right, Unfotunately it WAS my chart and I was reluctantly told that I had Stage 4 Lung Cancer. When I first visited my primary care physician in June 2016 for a nonproductive cough, my doctor prescribed antibiotics and allergy medicine. When the cough failed to clear up, I had a chest X-ray that revealed my left lung was full of fluid. 2 full liters of fluid.
Doctors diagnosed me with stage 4 lung cancer in July 2016. The cancer had also spread to various bones and other areas of my body. My doctors were surprised that someone with my condition wouldn’t have felt winded just walking to the mailbox, but I've been a personal trainer since 1990 and still work out five to six days a week, and I had no trouble breathing or with fatigue.
Since I was a nonsmoker and extremely healthy otherwise, my oncologist, Dr. Gauri Radkar, ordered tests on the lung fluid that pointed to a genetic link to the cancer. Before starting my first line targeted daily therapy I received two weeks of radiation on his left femur, the area with the most prevalent cancer.
Unfortunately, we received more difficult news shortly after my diagnosis when my daughter, Kaitlyn, was diagnosed with melanoma on her right ear. We rallied around each other and took care of her surgery immediately.
My family has been unbelievably supportive through this whole situation. It is a blessing to share my life with Debbie my wife of 37 years and my three grown children, Mike, Mitchell and Kaitlyn. They helped with everything I needed. They’ve been fantastic, including when my car died within weeks of my diagnosis and Mike and Mitchell chipped in and surprised me by taking me car shopping and bought me a new car.
A few months into my daily targeted therapy, I felt awful. I had no energy or appetite and I lost almost 20 pounds. It was November and my family feared I wouldn’t make it until Christmas. My scans on election night 2016 showed the cancer was progressing. Dr. Radkar ordered more in-depth genetic testing that isolated a gene mutation, T790M. She then switched me to a new daily targeted therapy that targets that specific mutation and I began feeling better within days. Honestly, I could have lost my life if it weren’t for the advances made by research into lung cancer.
I still smile when I reflect on my four older sisters createding a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Christmas theme in 2016, to show their “little” brother that they were in this with him to fight the gene mutation. They have become my guardian turtles.
Today I feel perfectly fine and my scans don’t light up with cancer anymore. My mindset is that I’m going to beat this. Even if it hasn’t happened before, there’s no reason I can’t beat it with all our medical advances and ongoing research and advancements. I even have a license plate for that car that simply says. WIN DAY, that's my philosophy,WIN the day. Don’t give up and you just might make history. Some days you may not win, but you can wake up and win tomorrow. And I embrace the platform I’ve been given by helping to fundraise through LCRF’s. I also take any opportunity I can to remind people that you only need to have lungs to get lung cancer. It doesn’t just happen to smokers.
Cancer changes your whole life. I want people to know that we are in this together. If I can inspire even one person I’m all for doing what I can do to help.
And that’s why I’m telling my story and asking you to support the Lung Cancer Research Foundation today. Your gift can make an incredible impact on lifesaving research. Like the research that saved my life...
I’m proud to support the Lung Cancer Research Foundation because they’re saving and extending lives by funding research for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of lung cancer. They are the leading nonprofit dedicated to lung cancer research and those impacted by it. They have funded hundreds of research grants and are committed to a future with no more lung cancer!
And I’m equally proud of people like you, who support LCRF and make all this funding possible. Thank you for fighting lung cancer!
Lung cancer survivor
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