Lung Cancer Survivors, Caregivers And Families From Across Nation Are Sharing Their Stories Of Impact Of Nation's Number One Cancer Killer

Nov 03, 2011, 16:00 ET from LUNGevity Foundation

Working to grow awareness and hope during Lung Cancer Awareness Month

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lung cancer survivors, caregivers and families from across the nation have joined together through LUNGevity Foundation to offer their experiences with the deadly disease and show its tragic impact. Especially during November, National Lung Cancer Awareness Month, these individuals are working to build support for public awareness of the need for cures and the hope that research offers by sharing their stories. LUNGevity Foundation, the nation's largest lung cancer research nonprofit, has a broad national grassroots network, comprised of patients, caregivers, families of patients and people in communities across the country, all working together to raise awareness of the disease and critical research funds for the early detection and successful treatment of lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the nation's number one cancer killer, taking more lives annually than breast, prostate, and colon cancer combined. In fact, with one in 14 Americans affected, the number of people who die from lung cancer is equal to having a jumbo jet fall from the sky every single day, with no survivors. More than half the people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked or have already quit smoking.  Because there is no early diagnostic test, less than 16 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer survive more than five years.

These individuals have compelling stories of courage and hope that they are sharing to help the hundreds of thousands of American families now struggling with the disease. Their stories provide help and guidance to both patients and loved ones, and help others realize how deadly and widespread the disease is.

Lung cancer survivors sharing their experiences:

Bud Baker, 60, Crowley, Texas, cancer-free for over three years, and a long distance cyclist, he bikes hundreds of miles each week. Baker supports others with lung cancer through LUNGevity and became a caregiver to his wife who was diagnosed over a year ago with breast cancer.

Heather Geraghty, 25, Maple Shade, N.J., diagnosed with lung cancer at age 24, is now celebrating her first year post-surgery by participating in LUNGevity events and sharing her story as a young survivor. A full-time student, she works as a caregiver to an elderly patient.

Jamie Young, 41, Walls, Miss., is a wife, mother, musician, band director and lung cancer survivor who was diagnosed in her 30s.  Initially her goal was to see her toddler start Kindergarten.  He is now nine years old, and she is cancer free. She teaches and plays the saxophone.

Jerrold Dash, 38, Fort Worth, Texas, is a never smoker, former college athlete, Southern Methodist University alum, diagnosed in his early 30s after years of being misdiagnosed, who received a rare double lung transplant after receiving his stage IV lung cancer diagnosis.  His cancer has since returned twice.  A survivor in treatment, with two children and a wife, he continues to educate others about advocating for their own health care and against the stigma that lung cancer is solely a smoker's disease.

Kathy Smith, 35, Merrimack, N.H., was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 29 after an accidental CT Scan. She is a lung cancer awareness advocate and triathlete who enjoys biking and sports, with her one existing lung.

Lois Green, 52, East Greenbush, N.Y., is a never smoker, an athlete, mother of two and now lung cancer free for over five years. Her cancer was discovered when a nurse suggested she see a pulmonologist for asthma-like symptoms. She trains for and runs marathons with her one existing lung.

Alisa Brenes, 54, N.Y., N.Y., has been cancer-free for over 10 years.  A 43-year-old single mom of two small boys at the time of her diagnosis, she was having constant knee pain but no other symptoms. She was finally diagnosed with the disease, only a few short months after her mother passed away from it (Alisa was her mother's caregiver not knowing she also had a tumor growing inside of her).  Brenes is active in LUNGevity's grassroots events.

Jill Feldman, 42, Deerfield, Ill., is a young mother of four and a two-time lung cancer survivor who is a nonsmoker. When she was only 13 years old, she lost her father and two grandparents to lung cancer. Fourteen years later, her mom and close aunt succumbed to the disease within a two-year period. Jill herself was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009 and just underwent her second lung cancer surgery last month. Jill has been involved with LUNGevity for the past 10 years, including having served as a past president of the Board. She is committed to increasing the awareness and funding for more effective treatments to lung cancer.

Jerry Sorkin, 46, Bethesda Md., is a corporate executive and 46-year-old father of two. A never smoker, he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in 2007. After discovering there were no D.C. area community events to help bring people with the disease together, Jerry conceived of LUNGevity's Breathe Deep DC walk as way to help the lung cancer community share, remember, heal, and support the fight against the deadly disease. This month there will be 15 Breathe Deep events across the country.

Families impacted by the disease:

Brad Saler, Mount Laurel, N.J., cofounded the South Jersey Lung Cancer Walk in 2004 with his late wife Heather.  A never smoker, Heather was diagnosed with the disease at age 33. Partnering with LUNGevity, Heather, Brad and volunteers helped orchestrate a lung cancer awareness movement in the Philadelphia area with their walk. Now renamed the annual Heather Saler Lung Cancer Walk, and in its 8th year, the event is filled with hope and support for those impacted by the disease.

Andrea Stern Ferris, Potomac, Md., is the president of LUNGevity Foundation.  In 2008, she lost her mother, Patricia Stern, to lung cancer.  Andrea left her for-profit career and committed herself to raising money for research into early detection and targeted therapies and to making lung cancer research, prevention, and treatment a priority on the national agenda.

"Those who have been impacted by the disease and are taking action to help others are inspiring," said LUNGevity Foundation President Andrea Stern Ferris. "A strong and active lung cancer community plays a vital role in helping to spark a national conversation about funding research to end lung cancer now. Lung Cancer Awareness Month is a key time to do this."

LUNGevity has the largest grant awards program of any lung cancer organization in the United States, and awarded $2 million this year to fund nine of the most promising lung cancer research proposals in the areas of early detection and targeted therapeutics. The organization is committed to raising the nation's awareness of the deadly disease and reducing the number of people who die from it.

To schedule an interview with a LUNGevity spokesperson, contact Victoria Shapiro at (202) 414-0774 or

SOURCE LUNGevity Foundation