Lieutenant Tim Smith battled fires for more than 16 years. Now, the married, 35-year-old father of two is taking on a new battle with stage IV lung cancer. That’s why throughout June, he and his family will walk a 10k in the American Lung Association’s virtual LUNG FORCE Run/Walk to raise awareness and funds for lung cancer research.
Suffering a year with symptoms of ear pain and dizziness, going through test after test, finding an answer was a struggle. Finally, genomic testing revealed he was ALK positive, a type of lung cancer that involves an alteration of the ALK gene, resulting in uncontrolled cell replication in the lungs.
“With my history, I first thought, I’m not a smoker.How did I get this?” Smith said. “Secondly, stage IV in my mind meant the end of the road.”
Smith quickly realized many lung cancer patients are non-smokers and it wasn’t the end of the road. Joining an ALK positive support group, he met others living with stage IV lung cancer.
“I’ve learned there’s hope in the future. There are people in my group that have been stage IV for 10-15 years.” he added. “In 10-15 years from now who knows what medicine is going to be out there.”
Being a patient advocate at fundraisers is important to Smith. He hopes to end the stigma around lung cancer and encourage donating for research.
“Stage IV cancer patients can live a somewhat normal and healthy life for many years. People need to see that.” Smith said. “You aren’t just helping people at the end of their life in a hospital bed. You’re helping people live for many years by donating towards these research projects led by the Lung Association.”
Smith has participated in the Lung Association’s fundraisers over the last two years, being a top donator each time. Given the circumstances, he’s hopeful to raise over $1,000 walking with family in the upcoming event.
“Cancer hasn’t stopped for the virus.” he added. “We can’t stop donating towards cancer because it hasn’t stopped.”
The Lung Association’s virtual LUNG FORCE Run/Walk will be held throughout the month of June. Participants are encouraged to run or walk their targeted distance outside while respectfully distancing from others or inside their own homes. Registration is $25. More information can be found LUNGFORCE.org/Columbus.
About the American Lung Association
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, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.