WASHINGTON, June 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- LUNGevity Foundation announces Richard Heimler, seven-time lung cancer survivor and father of two, as the June LUNGevity Hero for his advocacy and awareness-raising. Since his diagnosis in spring 2004, Richard has jumped into action – fighting the disease for a remarkable ten years while also advocating for more funds for important, lifesaving lung cancer research.
In his mid-forties and a nonsmoker, Richard came back from a business trip with heart palpitations and immediately sought out a cardiologist. An X-ray revealed an ominous shadow on one of his lungs. The diagnosis was lung cancer. He had the lung removed and received extensive chemotherapy. In the next five years, he also had tumors removed from his chest and brain and used chemotherapy to keep the cancer at bay.
"My children were too young to lose a father, and I didn't want my parents to bury a son," Richard shares in his short film 'Richard's Rays of Hope.' "With other types of cancers, you get to a five-year mark, you're home free. Odds are it will never come back. Not true with lung cancer. Lung cancer can always come back. And mine has seven times."
Lung cancer next attacked his only remaining lung. With chemotherapy stabilizing the tumors rather than killing them and the belief that Richard had no other options, his doctor recommended that he join a clinical trial of the drug Xalkori, which helps the three to five percent of lung cancer patients with the ALK-positive gene. The trial was a resounding success for Richard, shrinking his tumors with no negative side effects, and allowing him to feel the healthiest he has felt in years. Since then, with the hope and promise of science, he has managed to stay one step ahead of the disease.
"My philosophy from the beginning for lung cancer was to try to stay alive long enough until the next great treatment came along," said Richard. Like many others with lung cancer, Richard lives from treatment to treatment. And for that reason, he is not content to quietly fight the disease. Determined to share his story, he advocates for the personalized medicine and genetic testing that has extended his life.
In an effort to raise awareness of the disease, Richard has produced a short film titled 'Richard's Ray of Hope,' sharing his battle with the disease and attributing his survival to a combination of biology, chemistry, timing, and good luck.
"LUNGevity Foundation praises the strength and fortitude that Richard Heimler has shown in the face of his seven-time recurrence of lung cancer. His short film has provided many other lung cancer patients hope and inspiration as they face similar challenges," said Andrea Ferris, president and chairman of LUNGevity. "LUNGevity will not cease our fight until the day that we put an end to this disease, and it is individuals like Richard who inspire us to keep working toward a solution."
For more on Richard Heimler, visit LUNGevity Heroes Spotlight at http://blog.lungevity.org/?p=3113, see his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/richardsraysofhope, and watch his short film "Richard's Rays of Hope" at the following YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb_yULgxaJ0.
For more information on LUNGevity Foundation, please visit www.LUNGevity.org.
About Lung Cancer
- 1 in 14 Americans is diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime.
- About 60 percent of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers.
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, regardless of gender or ethnicity.
- Lung cancer kills almost twice as many women as breast cancer and more than three times as many men as prostate cancer.
- Only 16 percent of all people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive 5 years or more, but if it's caught before it spreads, the chance for 5-year survival improves to 52 percent.
About LUNGevity Foundation
LUNGevity Foundation is firmly committed to making an immediate impact on increasing quality of life and survivorship of people with lung cancer by accelerating research into early detection and more effective treatments, as well as by providing community, support, and education for all those affected by the disease. Our vision is a world where no one dies of lung cancer. For more information about LUNGevity Foundation, please visit www.LUNGevity.org.
SOURCE LUNGevity Foundation