Donna DeAngelis Helps Sister Fight Lung Cancer Across the Miles
Sisters Seek To Raise Awareness About Lung Cancer During Lung Cancer Awareness Month
(November 18, 2015) -
Donna DeAngelis of Seabrook New Hampshire knows how lung cancer can have an effect on an entire family. Donna’s sister, Mary, who lives in Oahu, was diagnosed with lung cancer a little over two years ago after a battery of tests were run following an initial complaint of a bad headache that did not go away until she was taken to the hospital a few days later. The first tests revealed three or four lesions on Mary’s brain and more tests ultimately led to the diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer. For Mary, who was healthy and had quit smoking many years ago, the diagnosis was a shock.
Since then, it has been a long road for Mary who has endured chemotherapy, radiation for an inoperable tumor on her larynx that was also discovered, and several Gamma Knife treatments. Yet despite these trials, Donna says her sister Mary considers the lung cancer “secondary” in her life. Instead, Mary has chosen to focus most of her energy on being a mother to her beautiful daughter who is in her second year of college, staying healthy herself by working again and exercising, and giving back by helping to raise awareness about lung cancer and funds to fight it. She is a survivor.
Donna and Mary are both supporters of LUNG FORCE, the American Lung Association-led movement launched in 2014 to encourage women to stand together against lung cancer and for lung health. Mary participated in her first LUNG FORCE Walk in Honolulu in November 2014 and the two sisters participated together in LUNG FORCE Walk Boston this past May. During Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Donna and her sister Mary are sharing their story in hopes that people will become more aware of the need for self-education, funding and support for lung cancer. Mary will again be walking in Honolulu this November.
“My sister is truly an inspiration to me and to our entire family,” says Donna. “We are grateful every time her tests come back clear and we do not take anything for granted. It is our hope that more women and men support the work that is being done to learn more about this disease so we can increase survival rates. Money raised from the LUNG FORCE campaign will, in part, go to fund research to learn why people get lung cancer and how they can be treated to either eradicate the cancer or extend their lives.”
" As a society we have genetic testing for so many other cancers unfortunately lung cancer is not one of them,” says Mary DeAngelis. “I feel that lung cancer should have a viable early testing program as does breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer and the like. Because I, and so many others were/are asymptomatic at the time of diagnoses', this could be another way to combat Stage IV lung cancer in those of us who do not currently meet screening guidelines. What’s more we need the medical community and the public to know about the lung cancer screening guidelines and the availability of the low dose CT scan to help detect lung cancer in its earliest and most curable stages. No one should be diagnosed with a non curable, terminal disease with no hope of survival, especially if there is a way to prevent it. My hope is to incorporate earlier screening within our healthcare system. My mantra is "No More Stage IV".
Donna DeAngelis says in addition to raising awareness about the disease itself, she hopes to raise awareness about support services that are available to lung cancer patients and their families. “The best advice I can give anyone who has a friend or family member facing lung cancer is to be there for the person every step of the way, listen to them and seek out support. It’s an emotional time for the patient and it’s important to be strong and supportive even on the most difficult days.”
The American Lung Association offers numerous resources for those facing lung cancer and their families. MyLungCancerSupport.org provides support for lung cancer patients from day one. The website enables patients and caregivers to access an interactive library, learn about lung cancer and learn how to get help making treatment decisions.
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of both men and women in the U.S. It kills more women than breast, colon, ovarian and cervical cancers combined. Every five minutes a woman in the U.S. is told she has lung cancer. Learn more about lung cancer and LUNG FORCE by visiting LungForce.org.