Team Susan Travels Home to Rochester to Raise Awareness & Funds to Fight Lung Cancer at Lung Association’s Dapper Dash, June 15

All Funds Raised by Team Susan will go to the Team Susan Research Award to study Lung Cancer in Never Smokers

(June 6, 2013)

Susan WarmerdamThe Lung Association will host its first ever Dapper Dash- A Necktie 5K- at Meridian Centre Park in Brighton on Father’s Day weekend, Saturday, June 15. Participants in this 2013 Fight for Air Run/Walk will “fight for air” by  walking or running to the finish line while wearing their favorite neckties. Proceeds from the event support the Lung Association’s mission to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.

Joining this year’s Dapper Dash will be Rochester native and lung cancer patient/survivor Susan Warmerdam.  Susan was in disbelief when she was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer at age 47 in February 2012 because she had never smoked a day in her life. Like many, Susan thought of lung cancer as a “smoker’s disease.” She lost her father, a former smoker, to lung cancer in 1999.

Warmerdam, who now lives in Chicago, grew up in Rochester, graduating from Gates-Chili High School in 1982 and from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1986.  She is traveling back to her hometown where her mother and brother and family still live to help raise awareness and funds for lung cancer.  Since being diagnosed, Susan has focused on doing everything in her power to keep her cancer at bay. She has not only drastically changed her lifestyle and diet, but has become a tireless advocate for lung cancer research and a messenger dedicated to both promoting lung cancer awareness and dispelling the myth that only smokers and  former smokers get lung cancer.
 
After her diagnosis, Susan reached out to the American Lung Association to ask how she could help.  Soon thereafter she created Team Susan and signed up to lead the Fight for Air Walk in Chicago. Incredibly, Susan recruited 81 team members and raised $40,000 to support the Team Susan Research Award, which she created with the Lung Association to support lung cancer research in never smokers.  In March, Susan raised an additional $16,000 at the Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb in Chicago.  All the funds Susan raises by participating in the Dapper Dash will go to the Team Susan Research Award.  Susan is committed to telling her story to as many people as possible, she says, because each person she tells becomes ‘one less person who falsely believes that lung cancer is a smoker’s disease and one more person that wants to help.’

“I am the new face of lung cancer and it is redefining who suffers from this disease,” says Warmerdam.  “Most people don’t realize that young, healthy, strong people who never smoked can get lung cancer. Nor do they realize that lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in this country.  My goal is to change people’s hearts and minds. We need lung cancer to become a cause people care about supporting and to erase the stigma that it’s just a ‘smoker’s disease’.”

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of both men and women in New York State and nationwide (killing more people than breast, kidney, colon and prostate cancers combined). Approximately 373, 489 Americans are living with lung cancer.  In New York State, 6,800 men and 6,600 women are diagnosed with lung cancer each year and 4,900 New York men and 4,300 women die of the disease each year. Despite these numbers, lung cancer still remains vastly underfunded.

Researchers are working hard to develop screening tests that can find lung cancer in its early stages when it can be treated more successfully. Not everyone diagnosed with lung cancer is a smoker or former smoker.  Susan learned that 30,000 people who have never smoked are diagnosed with lung cancer every year.  Her lung cancer tested positive for the EGFR gene (discovered in 2005), which was completely beyond her control and completely unrelated to smoking.

“We are grateful to Susan Warmerdam for all she has done to raise awareness about lung cancer and convey the message that even people who have never smoked a day in their life can get lung cancer,”  said Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast.  “The bottom line is that no one deserves lung cancer, smoker or nonsmoker.  All of us need to care about this disease and fight for more research funding so that we can find better treatments and cures. “

Susan hopes old friends, neighbors and former classmates will see her story and support her cause by joining her team or making a donation. Her goal is to build ‘Team Susan’ in her hometown and rally the Rochester community around funding lung cancer research so lung cancer gets the funding it needs and deserves. Susan will address the crowd next Saturday and be available for questions.

“My hope is that one day, a Lung Association researcher or scientist is going to find that next drug or treatment that will keep my cancer at bay,” says Susan.  “But I am just one person and the research isn’t going to happen if people do not join me in raising funds.  I am fighting not just for myself -- early detection and prevention are too late for me -- but rather for everyone. I am dedicating my life to this; it’s important to me that I use this personal tragedy to make a lasting difference.  I can only hope that I, too, will benefit from the research being done.”

The Lung Association hopes to raise $50,000 at this year’s Run/Walk on Saturday, June 15 to support its mission of saving lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.  The event starts at 9 a.m. To learn more about the event, register to walk or run, or to make a donation that could save lives, visit FightforAirWalk.org.  To join Team Susan or to make a donation to the Team Susan Research Award, visit Susan’s personal page.

The Dapper Dash is generously sponsored by Harter, Secrest and Emery, LLP; Conolly Printing; The Daily Record, 98.9 the Buzz; 13WHAM-TV; and Fleet Feet Sports. The event is also made possible with the support of national Corporate Team sponsor, Kindred Healthcare. Those who have questions or who would like more information about the Dapper Dash should contact Annalise de Zoete at DapperDash@LungNE.org or 585.666.1402.

To learn more about lung cancer, visit the Lung Association’s website at LungNE.org.  If you or a loved one is facing lung cancer, visit the Lung Association’s site Facing Lung Cancer:  Support From Day OneTM at Mylungcancersupport.org to access more in depth resources and support. Send a message to your elected officials urging increased funding for lung cancer research.