Meet Maureen, Our Resident Social Worker!

With Social Work Month coming to an end we decided to sit down with our very own resident social worker. Maureen, Lung Cancer Alliance’s Director of Community & Support Services, discusses what it is like working with lung cancer patients, how she ended up at LCA and some of her favorite memories on the job.

1. How long have you been a social worker?

I got my Master of Social Work degree in 1994. Before working at Lung Cancer Alliance, I supervised intensive case management teams at community mental health centers in DC and Chicago. I also have crisis line experience.

2. What is your favorite color?

It’s probably boring but it’s grey! I don’t know what that says about me…

3. When did you come to LCA?

In October 2005. It’s been wonderful to have contributed to the growth of the organization–we’ve more than tripled in staff since, have expanded the services we’ve offered and seen tremendous success in areas of public health advocacy and awareness raising. 

4. Why did you come to LCA/What brought you to LCA?

My father died from lung cancer and like many people, I was surprised at the disparities in lung cancer research funding and disturbed by the stigma associated with the disease. I got my social work degree at Jane Addams College of Social Work, where the focus is on social, racial, and economic justice. What better cause could I find to put my skills and experiences to good use?

5. Where is your favorite place you have traveled?

That is a tough question to answer! I am currently planning a third trip to Spain so right now, that’s my favorite.  

6. Favorite part of your job?

It is an honor to help people from all over the country understand lung cancer and find the resources they need. I also have great co-workers…and it’s really fun to work just a block from the White House!

7. Least favorite part of your job?

We lose many wonderful people to this disease and that’s very hard.

8. Most memorable story/experience at LCA?

There are so many! A very special experience was finally meeting John, one of our Phone Buddy volunteers. We’d really clicked in our phone and email exchanges and one year he and his wife came to our advocacy conference. He was a great volunteer and a wonderful man and I am so glad we got to meet in person (see below picture).

Maureen_John FINAL

9. How do you feel you are making a difference?

Besides being part of an organization that really is changing this disease and how it is managed, we can make a difference with just a single telephone conversation.  People who are diagnosed with lung cancer and their loved ones often feel confused and scared. When they call our HelpLine, we listen, provide support, information and direct them to available resources. People often tell us how much better they feel after we talked. LCA, the work we do and all our great volunteers remind me of the quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

10. What would you tell someone who is interested in starting a career in social work?

A social work degree can lead you in a lot of different directions and that’s exciting. I love that LCA was looking for a social worker for my position. I feel really fortunate as mine is a unique situation as few cancer advocacy organizations have social workers on staff. I wish more would!



We remind you that we are here to help. For answers to your questions, for free support services or to get involved and make a difference call our toll free HelpLine: 1-800-298-2436 or email

Spring Forward, Fear Less

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.” – Martin Luther King

As winter passes and spring unfolds I think of this time a year ago.  On the first day of spring last year my husband Harlan and I finally took the little white holiday lights down from the bushes in front of our house.  They looked magical when we put them up at Christmas.  We had just gotten married four months earlier and we were full of hope and plans for our new life in our new home.

In January, 2013, I was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer.  As we met with doctors and began to understand what we were in for, the lights became a talisman for me.  I did not want to see those lights go out.  They seemed a beautiful way to keep the darkness at bay, literally and metaphorically, at least for a little while.  But by the end of March I had finished my chemo and radiation treatments.  There was more light each day and the spring air smelled like new life and possibility.  It was time to learn to live with cancer.

Nothing can prepare you for the day your doctor looks you in the eye and tells you that you have cancer.  Few words have the power to cause such visceral fear.  In my case, I stayed calm.  This led friends and family to say to me, “Jennifer, you’re fearless!”

I’m not fearless, of course.  We all have fear, but we can find ways to fear less.  Taking fear out of the equation, even a little bit, enables us to think more clearly, make better decisions and feel that we have some measure of control in the midst of chaos.

Here are three things that help me to stay strong and fear less:

Saying it out loud

When I was first diagnosed I wasn’t sure how to tell people that I had cancer.  A friend proposed that I avoid specific detail and simply say I’d be out on medical leave.  But I thought, no, I want to call it what it is.  I have cancer.  Stage IIIB non-small cell lung cancer.  And no, it’s not from smoking.

When I tell people, I receive empathy and offers of help.  In many cases when someone learns the exact nature of my illness I receive specific, relevant and useful information or advice.

Playing to my strengths and asking for and accepting help

The first step is recognizing your strengths and accepting help where you need it.  It can be difficult to ask for or accept help.  In our jobs, in the home, even in our friendships, we are often accustomed to taking care of others.

I’m an extremely organized person and for me it is comforting to create lists and spreadsheets to manage the flood of cancer-related information.  I am not, however, anyone’s idea of a domestic goddess, so I gratefully accepted when friends offered to arrange a meal caravan during the months of my chemo and radiation.  By relinquishing responsibility for some activities I was better able to focus on dealing with my cancer without feeling overwhelmed.

Remembering that knowledge is power

Knowledge is power but the internet is a double-edged sword, with too much information to absorb and much of it not pertinent.  Organizations such as the Lung Cancer Alliance provide thorough and thoughtful resources, designed to help patients and their loved ones deal with cancer at every phase.

I am fortunate to work with a team of knowledgeable and responsive medical professionals, and I’ll be forever grateful for their counsel, candor and kindness.  Additionally, it’s a great help to me to talk with people who have my kind of cancer, who’ve have had my kinds of chemo (cisplatin and etoposide) and who struggle with the severe side effects of the medication I currently take (Tarceva).

Getting advice from professionals, talking with people who have what you have, finding local resources – these are all critical steps for building a support network that can help minimize our fear.

I’ve been living with cancer for a year now.  There are days when this beast of a disease lays me low, but those days are the exception not the rule.  Most often I am able to think clearly about my situation and not let fear cloud my judgment.  We can all live life more fully when we learn to fear less.

Jennifer Glass


Jennifer Glass was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer in January, 2013.  Watch Jennifer’s Fear.Less video here.  Her column, “At the Top of My Lungs:  Living with Lung Cancer,” is published on and The Huffington Post.  See more from Jennifer at





We remind you that we are here to help. For answers to your questions, for free support services or to get involved and make a difference call our toll free HelpLine: 1-800-298-2436 or email

Hug a Social Worker

March is National Social Work Month. Ali Sachs, Oncology Social Worker and lung cancer survivor, shares her perspective on the profession and how it impacted her diagnosis.

“Hug a Social Worker”


I’m a lung cancer survivor. It took me a long time to be able to say that without feeling like I was going to cry, throw up, or a combination of the two, all the while asking the same question any of us ask when crisis befalls us ‘WHY ME?’ But more about that later.

Just recently, I was reminded of the fact that March is National Social Work Month, something I probably should have known, since I am a social worker. But life is busy, I tend to forget these things, and truth be told….most of us social workers don’t look for recognition, we just do what we do and look back at the end of the day hopefully satisfied that we’ve done it well, knowing we’ll return tomorrow and start all over again.

I love my job. I identify myself, my skills, my expertise, my passion (other than my family) as intrinsically linked to being a social worker. It’s all I’ve ever done. The week after I received my Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) I walked into NY Infirmary Hospital, knew I’d found my professional home and never looked back.

Through a series of job and life changes (including a move cross country), in August of 2003, I found myself in the enviable position of Oncology Social Worker, helping to open the new Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, CA. As the plans became reality and the needs (of the community we serve) grew, my position grew as well. After a short period of time, along with providing social work services, I was doing community needs assessments and developing, implementing and evaluating patient and family support programs to meet those needs.

A while later, we added community outreach, program implementation, promotion of our cancer center and raising money to offer the Cancer Support Services Program. Like I said….dream job!

Who knew I’d be in need of the very same services I was helping build for others, but more about that later.

Webster’s defines ‘social work’ as:  Any of various professional activities or methods concretely concerned with providing social services and especially with the investigation, treatment, and material aid of the economically, physically, mentally, or socially disadvantaged. As definitions go, I guess this one is as good as any, but it is just too broad for me. I’m a specialist with a particular area of expertise.  So, I much prefer the definition of social worker to be about my specific work setting, my area of expertise. I prefer this definition from For people diagnosed with cancer, an oncology social worker is an important member of the health care team, helping them navigate the health care system and find support to manage the day-to-day challenges of living with cancer. This includes providing counseling, education, information services, discharge and home care planning services, and referrals to community resources for people with cancer and their families and friends.

That’s me, an ONCOLOGY SOCIAL WORKER. My area of expertise is ONCOLOGY, that means CANCER, but ONCOLOGY sounds a little less ominous.

Oh, and I’m a lung cancer survivor…did I mention that yet? I had (and have) an amazing team of professionals taking care of me. Radiologists, surgeons, medical oncologists, nurses, techs, phlebotomists (which when first introduced to me, I thought they were there to take care of the plants in the waiting room, not draw blood from my way too small veins), etc. They diagnosed me early, put together my treatment plan for surgery and follow up scans every six months (sometimes every three months), and celebrated with me when I reached the five year mark. But the oncology social worker I knew best, the one who was going to help me navigate through and meet the challenges of day-to-day living, was nowhere to be found. She was sitting on the floor of her closet, under the hanging clothes, waiting for the boogey man to stop scaring her and go away.

I needed support. I needed a navigator. I needed a guide. I needed more information than the physicians or nurses had the time to give me (after all, don’t all us cancer patients ask the same question five times, just worded slightly differently hoping to get a different, more acceptable, less scary response?). I needed a list of accurate, appropriate, up-to-date, non-biased web sites to turn to. I needed a support group. I needed a place to send my husband, my children if they had questions I just couldn’t or wouldn’t answer. I needed a counselor to give me the room and space to verbalize and eventually come to understand my own fears so that they would lessen, even diminish over time. I needed answers to concrete questions about services, and insurances, and home care, and on and on and on…………………I needed an Oncology Social Worker.

I didn’t love being a lung cancer patient. I mean, who would. Really. Even a martyr has their limits. But as time went on, treatment proceeded, and fear (while always present lurking somewhere in the back of my mind), receded, it got easier and day to day living, once again, became the norm.

I love being an Oncology Social worker. I’m good at it, appreciate my skills, respect & admire the patients and their loved ones that I have the privilege of serving every day. I’m honored to be part of a healthcare team made up of some of the best oncology professionals there are. I work every day to do the best I can to provide the services our patients and their loved ones need, to represent my profession in the best possible light, to acknowledge that my own journey as a cancer patient and now as a cancer survivor has contributed to my striving every day to be the best social worker I can be. And, after 30 years, I thought I knew what my chosen profession, was all about. But, it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with cancer, until I needed a social worker that I really understood.

So, if you haven’t already, ask to talk to your Oncology Social Worker. Don’t have one? Email me and I will connect you to one of the over 1300 members of the Association of Oncology Social Workers.

And, in recognition of March as National Social Work Month, go ahead and hug a social worker……….it’ll make you both feel better!

Alison Mayer Sachs, MSW, CSW, LSW, OSW-C
Community Outreach & Cancer Support Services, Director
Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center

Love Makes the Difference for a New Hampshire Couple

A New Hampshire couple shares their unique perspectives after a husband’s lung cancer diagnosis.

By Rick Thompson

On Aug. 25, 2003, my wife Janet and I  celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.  It was a happy time as we were surrounded  by family and friends. We decided to renew  our wedding vows and we did just that, in  the same church where we first said those  words.

Just 13 days later our lives forever changed.

On Sunday, Sept. 7th, in the early afternoon, I collapsed on our living room floor with a severe pain in my chest. I didn’t know it then, but my left lung had collapsed.

The day before I had a pain in my left shoulder. I just wrote it off as a sore shoulder. It was a hot September weekend and I sat in front of a fan while I did some work. I figured I would only be about a half hour so there was no sense in turning off the fan or moving my work.

That Sunday I was admitted to the hospital because the pain in my shoulder was pneumonia, which caused my lung to collapse. While doctors were working on that problem, I learned I had lung cancer.

You don’t hear a lot after someone says the words lung cancer while looking at you. While I have vivid memories about the events leading up to those words, the few days after hearing those words are a blur.

I am a ten-year survivor, in part because of luck – when the cancer was discovered there was still a surgical option available. I am a ten-year survivor in part because of my doctors, especially a highly skilled surgeon at the Massachusetts General Hospital. But most of all I am a ten-year survivor because of Janet. She was not about to let lung cancer take me away.

I often say it is much easier being a lung cancer victim than it is being a caregiver or family member. As a lung cancer victim, I always knew how I felt. My caregiver, my wife Janet, and my children, Shelley and Jarrod, could only ask me how I felt and then hope I would not gloss over how I was feeling at that moment.

Janet knew better. She knows that when I said everything was fine, everything wasn’t fine. After 30 years, she could read me like a book.

After my surgery, I went through chemotherapy. In the middle of that, I was ready to through in the towel. Janet would not let me quit. She pushed, and pushed and pushed until I completed chemo.

When I think about beating the odds, I often think about boxer Rocky Graziano. He beat the odds and became the middleweight champion. He called his autobiography Somebody Up There Like Me! That could be my story as well. Somebody up there sent Janet into my life. Somebody up there likes me!

By Janet Thompson

It’s been a little over ten years, and after 40 years of marriage, the words still ring in my ears, “Your husband has lung cancer.”

The long hard road began back in September 2003 when Rick was sick with pneumonia and then diagnosed with lung cancer. We were told it wasn’t operable. We decided to go to Mass General where we learned they could operate. After a couple of surgeries, his lung was removed in November and then the chemo began.

Being the caregiver for Rick, along with our best cheerleader, our daughter, as well as our son who had to provide support long distance as he was away at school, we all traveled the long road together with Rick. He got very sick from the chemo and wanted to quit. Our hearts were broken and I wished I could take away the pain from the surgery and the sick feeling he was going through.

He might have been the patient but sometimes I think it is harder on the caregiver, feeling helpless and not being able to provide the comfort or to take away the pain. I had to find a way to encourage him.

Fortunately Rick got on track and things improved.  I’m pleased to say that this past August we celebrated our 40th Anniversary in Montreal, where we had started out on our honeymoon.

Not knowing about the programs available to Rick or myself I was fortunate to have a nurse provided through the insurance company. She would check in with me a few times a week.  It was a great support system and I found it to be very encouraging.

Which brings me to Lung Cancer Alliance. The great support system they have is not just for the patient, but for the caregivers and family members as well.  It is a great feeling to be able to pick up the phone and talk with someone.

I am so very proud of Rick and all that he has been through over the last ten years and so very proud that he is a very strong advocate for people with lung cancer.  Rick spearheads the lung cancer vigils here in Nashua, N.H.  He is a telephone buddy providing support to those with lung cancer.  He provides the opportunity for people to relate to someone who has already gone through what they are facing. He provides encouragement knowing that you can survive and the road is not as hard and lonely when someone on the other end of the phone is living proof you can survive and you can do it.

Valentine’s Day is here and I am so pleased to say that I will be celebrating it with my soul mate, best friend and lung cancer survivor of ten years.

An Important Step Towards Coverage for Lung Cancer Screening

We need your help! The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is moving its review process forward for lung cancer screening coverage. Currently the median age for diagnosis is 67 so you can see why this is important to the federal agency that provides health care services to seniors and those disabled.

We believe in the life saving benefit of lung cancer screening and we know you do too. Please consider telling CMS what lung cancer screening means to you and why you think they should cover this for those who need it most. Click here to tell CMS why all those at high risk for lung cancer deserve this life saving benefit!

There will be a number of steps in this process that we will be following and commenting on. But your input is just as important!

Private insurers have already begun to cover lung cancer screening and will continue to do so, but the government agencies follow a separate track.

When lung cancer screening is fully and responsibly implemented we will be able to save tens of thousands of lives a year. We must call on CMS to work with us and move this process forward as quickly as possible.

One final note, for those who have been diagnosed with lung cancer and have never smoked or don’t fit the ‘high risk’ description, this opportunity benefits the entire lung cancer community, as screening is a tool to help accelerate research into other detection, diagnosis and treatment discoveries.

Take action now! Share your thoughts and experiences with CMS.

The public comment period will be open until March 12, 2014. Please do not include personal health information in your comments, as they will be disregarded. 

2014 World Cancer Day!

By Lung Cancer Alliance and the Global Lung Cancer Coalition (GLCC)

Today is World Cancer Day, a chance to raise awareness, encourage discussion, highlight misconceptions about the disease and most importantly, celebrate our survivors. Through the Global Lung Cancer Coalition (GLCC), we are working in tandem with 27 other lung cancer organizations from around the world to improve outcomes for all lung cancer patients, worldwide.

On this World Cancer Day, we commit to the global lung cancer community to bring attention to continue our work in the following areas:

Placing lung cancer on the global healthcare agenda

Screening is here in the US! There are screening centers of excellence for those at high risk and insurance is beginning to cover this life saving benefit for those who need it most.  This also has the potential to accelerate research on earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Changing public perceptions and lessen the stigma of lung cancer

No one deserves to die from lung cancer. This message is coming through more since our No One Deserves to Die campaign launched. Our amazing volunteers have also helped us create the largest coordinated awareness event for lung cancer in the world!

Empowering lung cancer patients to take an active role in their care

Knowledge is power. If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed or is battling lung cancer, please call our HelpLine at 1-800-298-2436 and we can help.

Effecting change in legislative or regulatory policies to optimize treatment and care

The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, historic lung cancer legislation, passed a year ago.  $78M secured through a lung cancer research pipeline within the Department of Defense.  Now, with your help, we are working to secure access and coverage for screening and treatments!

Lung Cancer Alliance and all of the organizations within GLCC want you to know that on World Cancer Day and throughout the year, we are committed to celebrating you and working for change that will ultimately save the lives of hundreds of thousands around the world.


The Grammy Awards Are Sunday…Check Out LCA Staff Favorite Songs!

Music is a great way to let loose, have fun, decompress or just relax. Here at LCA, we love listening to music and often have it on in the office to give us motivation, inspiration and generate creativity.

With the 56th Annual Grammy Awards approaching on Sunday, January 26, 2014 we asked the LCA staff and volunteers what their favorite songs are.





Laurie Fenton Ambrose, President & CEO: “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett





Sheila Ross, Special Counsel: “O Mio Babbino Caro” by Gianni Schicchi





Emily Eyres, Chief Operating Officer: “Sugar Magnolia” by Grateful Dead





Amy Copeland, Director of Medical Outreach: “Such Great Heights” by Postal Service





Edy Whidden, Chief Administrative Officer: “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera





Tina Hone, Senior Advisor, Policy and Partnerships: “Downtown” by Petula Clark





Maureen Rigney, Director of Community and Support Services: “World Leader Pretend” by REM






Tara Perloff, Support Services Manager: “Save Room” by John Legend, “Wonderland” by John Mayer and “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5






Kay Cofrancesco, Director of Marketing: “Copacabana” by Barry Manilow





Gabby Geier, Communications Manager: “Brave” by Sara Bareilles





Zakiyah Williams, Manager of Events and Volunteers: “Suit & Tie” by Justin Timberlake & Jay-Z





Lanni Boyd, Senior Manager of Events and Volunteers: “Jamming” by Bob Marley





Josh Hunter, Development and Advocacy Coordinator: “Travelers Insurance” by Their/They’re/There





Kristen McAvoy, Administrative Assistant: I really like Jazz artists (old and new), such as Michael Buble, Harry Connick, Jr., Frank Sinatra, etc. A somewhat new artist, Melody Gardot, is one that I like, as well. She was in a terrible car accident at the age of 19 and jazz was therapeutic for her during her recovery process. Her music inspired me!





Jenny White, TN Chapter Director: Two of my favorite songs are Christine Aguilera’s “Fighter” and “Beautiful!”





Carla Poe, GA Chapter Community Representative: “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars because it reminds me of the music I grew up listening to – that Motown flair….





Ken Wheatley, CA Chapter Co-Director: “You’ll Always Be My Heart And Soul” by Stephen Bishop


Don’t miss two-time Grammy winner, country music star and lung cancer survivor, Merle Haggard, performing alongside Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Blake Shelton at the Grammy’s on Sunday. We can’t wait for the epic performance!

Which song or artist do you turn to for motivation and inspiration?

Lung Cancer Alliance for a Happy + Healthy 2014

2013 was a fantastic year for all of us at Lung Cancer Alliance. Now that 2014 is just around the corner, the LCA team has come up with New Year’s resolutions to stay happy and healthy.

Laurie Fenton Ambrose, President & CEO: Step up my exercise routine as though I was training for the Olympic Pentathlon. I have been dying to learn how to fence!

Amy Copeland, Associate Director of Medical Outreach: My resolution is to try something new every week. It might be as simple as trying a new recipe, taking a class or going to a museum I have not been to before. I’ll be going hot air ballooning on the 29th so I think that will count for the first week!

Edy Whidden, Chief Administrative Officer: Get rid of all things I have not used in the past year at home.

Maureen Rigney, Director of Community and Support Services: I am going to take at least one fitness class and am going to try to learn a new skill each month.

Emily Eyres, Chief Operating Officer: Thinking about getting my butt kicked again by the Marine Corps Marathon but, ugh… It hurts just saying that!

Josh Hunter, Development and Advocacy Coordinator: Read at least two books per month.

Gabby Geier, Communications Manager
: See a new country this year!

Kristen McAvoy, Administrative Assistant: To write more. I have always loved writing, so I want to start doing it regularly by creating a blog. So I guess my New Year’s resolution is to write an entry every week.

Lanni Boyd, Senior Manager of Events and Volunteers: Learning to rock climb

Comment below with your 2014 resolutions, and check out our Facebook page for more tips to stay happy and healthy in the new year.

Message On Lung Cancer Screening

As many of you have most likely seen, lung cancer screening has been in the news many times in the past year. We hope to see a final recommendation from the federal government approving CT screening for those at high risk before the end of this year!

As this important decision draws near, you will likely see an even more heightened focus as well as differing opinions in the press about how CT screening can benefit you.  It may be confusing – but this is what is important to remember.  Above all, lung cancer screening is a life-saver. Period.

Yes, any screening method or drug treatment for any disease comes with varying levels of risk.  But the good news for lung cancer is that today we have a greater understanding of how best to manage any suspicious nodule than we did years ago. We also have more advanced imaging tools to assist us in the earlier detection of lung cancer than those used in earlier outdated studies.  And unfortunately many press reports are using this outdated information.

Over the past two years, through our National Framework, we have been working with screening centers of excellence  to ensure responsible and quality screening and care is available to those who need it most. We will continue to make sure you receive only the most current, updated and responsible information.  We will continue to work with committed leaders in the field to develop tools and materials to guide your understanding and help with conversations you may have with your doctor, family and the people you love.

We urge you to continue to seek information about your lung cancer risk and whether you could benefit from screening. This truly is a win-win for those at risk, researchers seeking cures and all who are impacted by lung cancer.

We promise you that we will never take our focus off the goal of savings lives and advancing research to help anyone impacted by this disease.

A Wife’s Legacy Lives On

“Gail, what’s with this cough you have that won’t go away? Why are you getting so tired lately? You work out all the time and are in great shape, just go to the doctor since it has to be something simple they can fix with a shot. Must be something like pneumonia or some simple virus you just can’t shake. What do you mean you have to go for x-rays? They’re admitting you to the hospital? You’re having a scan to look for what?”

Then the emergency room doctor walks in and says in a very matter of fact tone, “It’s a tumor in your lung.” Life just stops and we’re next looking right at the freight train coming at us a million miles an hour.

Find an oncologist. Put a port in your chest. Start chemotherapy and continue for ten rounds. Get told after chemo stops working, “If you don’t do radiation therapy, you have about a week to live.” Twenty five radiation treatments follow. Get your affairs in order. Get married, because you know time is running out.

And then just 363 days after we heard “it’s a tumor,” you’re gone.

That’s how fast lung cancer wrecks lives. That’s how fast I lost the love of my life.

How did this happen? Why couldn’t more be done? 46 years old when they diagnosed you with this horrible disease. We were supposed to grow old together and be there for each other and now you’re gone. While going through treatment we learned how horrible the survival rates are. How can that be? Haven’t people been researching this for years now? What’s been going on for the past 40 years? You learn the facts. Things like more people in the United States die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer and yet it is one of the least funded for research or that one in fourteen will get this disease and you know that this is just unacceptable. So what can I do about it?

Well the answer is a lot and by doing something very simple. In looking for answers after her passing, I found the Give A Scan program and was very impressed that the focus was on being the world’s first patient-powered open access database for lung cancer research. It was a no brainer to ask for her scans to be collected together and sent in to be part of this database. It was as simple as contacting her doctors for some details that I needed to add to the questionnaire, making a phone call to the hospital for a copy of her scans and finally taking the time to mail it. How hard is that, maybe a couple of hours?

Gail was worried before she passed away that her nieces and nephews, we have nine of them, wouldn’t remember her when she was gone, but I told her they’ll remember because of all the great stories we have of her when she was right here with us, but a bigger part of her legacy just might be in those scans. Maybe some research team might find better treatments or even a cure, so that our nieces and nephews might live in a world where they never have to hear those nightmare words, “It’s a tumor in your lung.”

So that’s my hope after losing her. Maybe something good can come out of something horrific. I wished I never had to be on this path, but it happened and I can’t change losing Gail. I decided to honor her and to make sure future generations might have more hope than we did by choosing to participate in this program and send in her scans and treatment history. It’s my hope many others might read this and will choose to help in these research efforts as well. Those lucky enough to survive and those who have lost someone close to them can easily choose to join me and make a difference as well. It’s so very simple and the cost is just your time. Trust me…you’ll feel better doing it.

Thank you to the Lung Cancer Alliance for collecting this data and advocating for research, better care for patients and hopefully a cure, but most importantly, God bless all of you whose lives have been touched in some way by lung cancer. You each know all too well the horrors of this disease. It’s time for us to now pick up the fight for those who no longer can and I hope you’ll be inspired to also participate in the Give A Scan program so maybe future generations can say, “Remember when lung cancer couldn’t be prevented or cured?” I hope it will be Gail’s nieces and nephews who are the ones saying it.

Scott Reid
New Jersey