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Karen M

An early Saturday morning with Michael having breathing problems was the beginning of a new journey for us. With tightness across his chest and unstable breathing, we headed to Urgent Care. There were no red flags at the doctor visit and a breathing treatment stabilized his breathing. Thinking it was a mild lung infection and a follow up with the primary doctor would get us back on the fast track, we continued on with life which was treating us pretty good.

Michael, 56 years young, nonsmoker and very active, went to work as usual the next day. Thinking he would squeeze in that follow up, Michael was quickly admitted into the hospital with fluid around his lung. We needed time to digest this turn of events with his diagnosis and realized this was the beginning of our race against Stage IV lung cancer.

Climbing life's mountains with relentless energy was our mantra. A dynamic couple heading up the corporate ranks with 2 kids did not compare to our race with lung cancer. Michael, the king of logistics and I, the queen of management, were not going to lose this race. We were determined.

Our first check point was identifying our key goal which in our minds was remission. That goal was quickly refuted with a response of "there is no cure for Stage IV." My quest for knowledge confirmed no cure and more importantly, the life time clock was counting down for my Michael. We experienced the stigma associated with lung cancer although Michael was not a smoker and acknowledged a paradigm shift must occur to get support in our fight against the #1 cancer killer: lung cancer.

Michael ran an energetic race for 14 months and even walked in the first LUNG Force walk in Atlanta with our STRIVE Michael team.

Our valiant race continues as I commit my talent and funds toward a solution to this deadly disease as the Chair for the Georgia LUNG Force Cabinet. We advocate for the "Hand-off Communications" framework to increase the survival longevity for lung cancer patients; promote turquoise awareness and raise critical funds to battle this deadly disease.

I roll out of bed daily and go to my knees and pray I deliver on my commitment to Michael that his race for solutions is still going strong.

First published: September 16, 2016

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