CHARLOTTE, NC | February 3, 2021
Local resident Mike Smith has been living with stage IV lung cancer since 2016, and thanks to new research and treatments, he lives a relatively normal life. To help raise awareness for lung cancer and funds for life-saving research, on March 27, he will climb 808 stairs at Truist Field, Home of the Charlotte Knights, as a part of the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb presented by Landmark Builders.
In the summer of 2016, Mike was working in his backyard and experienced what he thought was an asthma event. He used his inhaler, but it failed to give him relief. He knew something was wrong but brushed it off as allergies.
“Then in July 2016, I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I was having a heart attack. I felt like I had an elephant on my chest. I jumped out of bed. Shortly after, the pain moved from my chest to my arm and my back and then to my other arm. That was when I really moved forward in finding out what was going on with me,” said Mike.
He switched doctors and went over his full medical history with them. That night, he received a call from his doctor.
“When you get a call from your doctor at 8 p.m. at night it is probably not good news,” he said. “Preliminary analysis showed that there was a mass on my right lung. The doctors didn’t know what it was then but thought that it could be cancer.”
After more than three weeks of testing, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
“It was a punch in the gut,” he said. “How could I get lung cancer? I never smoked. Then I found out that 20% of people diagnosed with lung cancer are never smokers.”
Mike underwent radiation, a craniotomy to remove a brain tumor and has had three targeted therapies to treat his lung cancer. September will be the five-year anniversary of his lung cancer diagnosis. He is still in treatment but works full time and goes to the gym five days a week. In March, he will participate in the Fight For Air Climb to raise awareness for lung cancer and funds for research.
“If I don’t advocate for myself with lung cancer, who will? That is the only way we can find a cure. The American Lung Association and its research funding has been a miracle for me,” he said. “My most important message is that lung cancer does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter if you are Black, White, Asian, Caucasian, smoker, non-smoker, or whatever, if you have lungs, you can get lung cancer.”
The Fight For Air Climb will take place at Truist Field, Home of the Charlotte Knights, on March 27. Registration is $35 and requires an additional $100 fundraising minimum. For more information and to register, visit FightForAirClimb.org/Charlotte.
Your safety is always our number one priority. We are continually monitoring local conditions that might affect your Climb. Check your local Climb website for the most up-to-date information.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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