Local Physician and Lung Cancer Survivor Serves as Catalyst to Educate Our Community About Lung Health

Local Physician and Lung Cancer Survivor Serves as Catalyst to Educate Our Community About Lung Health

Internal medicine doctor at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Catherine Madaffari, was diagnosed seven years ago with lung cancer at a time when she was at the pinnacle of her career and raising three children as a single parent. “From that moment, I have not let lung cancer define me,” Madaffari emphatically shares.
“When I received the news, I was in South Florida touring colleges with my youngest daughter, Sophia. Nothing was going to interfere with this mother/daughter college trip, so we continued, and I kept the news of the diagnosis to myself. Cancer was going to wait. We when returned to Jacksonville, I sat down with my three children to discuss the diagnosis. With the support of a few very close friends, we were able to rally and get through this diagnosis.” shares Madaffari.

As an active mom and successful physician Madaffari sees herself like every other working professional, but also like her patients – working to balance it all. “Cancer doesn’t discriminate,” shares Madaffari. “I was a runner, healthy and a non-smoker and am now a lung cancer survivor. Today, as a physician at Mayo Clinic, I offer hope and support to my patients with their diagnosis. I have a personal understanding of what they are dealing with and know firsthand how a diagnosis affects not just the patient but the whole family.”

“I felt the stigma of this diagnosis. If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer. I feel that at times people delay seeking medical attention at the onset of symptoms, because of the stigma that the diagnosis is self-induced. This needs to change. Early diagnosis can lead to early treatment and better survival rates,” remarks Madaffari.

Since diagnosis, Madaffari has embraced support from her family, colleagues, and the American Lung Association. She has become a key thought leader in Jacksonville with LUNG FORCE, an initiative that unites women, men, and caregivers across the country to stand together against lung cancer, the leading cancer killer. 

As a LUNG FORCE Hero, Madaffari testified before members of Congress on the importance of increasing research funding for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of lung cancer. Madaffari is particularly hopeful for more lung health research on women as the incidence of lung cancer in women is on the rise – 1 in 17 women will develop lung cancer in their lifetime. “However, there is hope. While lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., the survival rate has increased to nearly 22% and awareness of this deadly disease has steadily increased,” states Madaffari.

In the spring of 2022, Madaffari’s lung cancer returned. Fortunately, a surgeon was able to remove the effected tissue and she continues be monitored regularly. Madaffari continues to be resilient and live her life to the fullest. She looks for opportunities to share her story in hopes to educate people about the importance of early lung cancer detection and the resources available to individuals living with lung disease in our community. 

Most recently, as a LUNG FORCE Cabinet Member, Madaffari is helping the Lung Association prepare for one of their signature events, the LUNG FORCE Run/Walk taking place October 1 at Haskell in Riverside. “This is a fun family friendly event, designed to bring community members together to share stories and provide hope. This fundraising event is truly inspiring, and it gives me hope that with our continued collective efforts, we will be well on our way to eventually making lung cancer a thing of the past,” Madaffari brightly shares.

Money raised at the LUNG FORCE Run/Walk will fund the American Lung Association in Jacksonville’s efforts to end lung cancer and lung disease, through local programs, advocacy efforts and research.

Registration for the Jacksonville LUNG FORCE Run/Walk on October 1 is $35. For more information and to register, visit LUNGFORCE.org/Jacksonville.   

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