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Le Ann F.

I am both shocked and yet, I shouldn't be. I have stage 4 lung cancer. I am the third non-smoker in my family to have the same diagnosis-my 42 year old sister, who passed away in 1999 and my 83 year old father (83 going on 70 and extremely healthy) passed last October after a two-month battle. Apparently, we are genetically predisposed to this disease. My mom, a life-long smoker was diagnosed shortly before her death at 77. My remaining living family-my twin and older brother-are going the course of semi-annual screening, as will my late sister's children.

The kicker about lung cancer is its unique ability to remain unnoticed until it is ALREADY late stage. By actively screening, my other family members will have a chance to catch this disease when at an early and beatable stage, as should ALL smokers. I have witnessed my sister's five-month battle and was there all along my father's shorter journey.

If you have ever witnessed someone die from this form of cancer-I only have experience with this particular form-it's not pretty, no matter how old or relatively young. But, I remain positive and hopeful. Honestly, if I had to be diagnosed with this cancer, I would much rather it be in 2018 vs. 1999 or 2017. (2019 or 2020 would be even better, but ya can't have everything!)

The only control I have is over my attitude, and what I put into my body and allow into my mind. So, I will focus on that which I can change. That brings me to this year's LUNG FORCE event in Philadelphia. I am a huge believer in giving back. I am and will continue to benefit from those before me who donated their time and effort to create awareness and donated financially. So many new treatments are available (of which I am fortunate to be a benefactor) thanks to them. So, it's my turn to do the same and raise funds an awareness for future benefactors.

First published: May 9, 2018

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