JACKSONVILLE, FL | July 14, 2021
Earlier this month, Jacksonville resident Patricia “Pat” Fitzpatrick turned 70-years-old, which was a milestone she never thought she would reach after being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Now she is working to raise money for lung cancer research by participating in the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Run/Walk in Jacksonville on August 21.
In 2014, Fitzpatrick experienced severe chest pains. She went to the emergency room concerned of a heart attack. A CT scan revealed tumors in both lungs, and she was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer.
“After the holidays, I shared the news with my daughters who were devastated,” she said “I immediately started chemotherapy and responded well. I lost all my hair, but we got through it.”
After chemotherapy, her doctor at the Cancer Specialists of N. Florida recommended a newly FDA approved immunotherapy drug, Opdivo. Fitzpatrick responded well to the drug and continues to get this treatment every three weeks.
“I am still working full time. I feel perfectly normal and walk every day,” she said. “But it is still a journey. I still get my routine PET scans, and I still worry every time until I receive the positive results!”
Shortly after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she met some staff from the American Lung Association in Florida who were recruiting walkers and donations for the LUNG FORCE Walk at her place of employment. She decided to get involved. Since then, she has traveled to Washington D.C., representing the state of Florida, to advocate for life-saving research funding, and on August 21, she will participate in her 5th LUNG FORCE Run/Walk in Jacksonville with her team, “Stronger than Cancer” to help raise money for lung cancer research.
Fitzpatrick has been in remission with no active cancer since 2017, and thanks to ongoing Opdivo treatments, her cancer has not returned and she is leading a normal life. Her motivation to support the LUNG FORCE Run/Walk comes down to one word, “research.”
“My family members have had three different kinds of cancers, lung, neck and prostate,” said Fitzpatrick. “Anytime I can support anything related to cancer research, I am there. You don’t realize how important research it is until you, a family member or friend is diagnosed with cancer. Hopefully someday there will be a cure.”
The American Lung Association in Florida’s LUNG FORCE Run/Walk will take place at the Haskell Company on Saturday, August 21. For the event, participants will run or walk a 5K along the St. Johns River to help raise awareness and funds to end lung cancer and lung disease. For more information and to register, visit LUNGFORCE.org/Jacksonville.
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.
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