It’s enough to take your breath away. They look so healthy. Many are very young. They are the non-smokers, the ones who exercise and eat organic. They do not work with hazardous materials.
They are the growing number of people diagnosed each year in Manitoba with lung cancer.
The elephant in the room is speaking out to say that precious lives are being lost because of a lack of funding for lung cancer research.
If diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer there is a 99% chance for a cure.
If diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer there is less than a 50% chance of a cure.
The third annual Inspire for Life Walk on Friday, June 14, 2013 at the Forks, aims to increase public awareness about lung cancer and to raise funds for research. Registration starts at 6 PM and the walk is at 7 PM. Those not walking can make donations at that time and tax receipts will be issued.
Research saves lives as Winnipegger Alice Fleck can attest. “I am grateful for the fifteen years research has given me,” says Alice, “and I expect that with a new treatment I am on, it will give me fifteen more.”
Diagnosed in 1999 with a slow growing adenocarcinoma, not the result of smoking, Alice had cancerous lobes removed from her lungs, underwent two rounds of chemotherapy each lasting seventeen months and as of January of this year is part of an innovative treatment option.
One such research project involves DNA testing and the correlation between lung cancer and breast cancer. The work is being carried out by Dr. Shantanu Banerji at the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology. Alice Fleck is a big fan of Dr. Banjeri.
“I’m a beneficiary of research and we need to support our researchers all we can,” says Alice.
Dr. Banerji utilizes Manitoba breast cancer and lung cancer tissue repositories to analyze cancer tissue obtained from patients being treated at CancerCare Manitoba.
“The goal is to target therapies that may be more effective for their cancer treatment,” says Dr. Banjeri. “This is essential as we move towards more personalized therapy for all patients with cancer.”
Alice Fleck feels fortunate to be involved in a therapy new to Manitoba as of January, 2013. She attributes her “wonderful new treatment” to Dr. Shaun Leowen, who relocated here from B.C., and his colleagues who set up Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) at Cancer Care Manitoba. SBRT is a technique that uses precisely targeted radiation on a tumor while minimizing radiation to surrounding normal tissue.
Parents like Ethel and Mirko Ljubic are also the faces of lung cancer. Their son, Jason, died at the young age of 37 from this national killer. A robust, healthy non-smoker, non-drinker who avoided red meat and exercised regularly was told he had bronchitis, then pneumonia and was prescribed antibiotics.
“He knew something was very wrong but no one believed him,” recalls his mother. By the time his brother, a paramedic in Saskatchewan arrived to help his family, it was too late. After some trips to the Emergency department Jason was biopsied and told he had Stage 4 lung cancer. His family searches for answers to this day. Test results for Radon in Jason’s residence were normal and they are left asking, “How did this happen?”
The Ljubics hope no other family has to lose someone they love to lung cancer. This is why they will be out in full support for the June 14 Inspire For Life Walk, as they believe research holds the answer.
They will be joined by volunteer Wenda Carter whose husband Larry Bender who also had lung cancer. Before he died, Larry made a donation to Cancer Care Manitoba. Wenda is happy knowing some of those funds will be used in work involving the tissue bank at the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology.
“I didn’t realize there could be a link between breast and lung cancers,” says Wenda, “and this just shows me that we are all connected to one another in so many ways. We all need to work together to conquer this disease.”
Medical oncologist, Dr. Gary Harding, says, “Manitoba has the best lung cancer survival rate in the world.” The International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership rates Manitoba as a leader. He says, that is quite a feat considering how underfunded lung cancer research is here and internationally. Less than 1% of all cancer funds are dedicated to lung cancer nationally.
Kristie Morydz, Nurse Practitioner, Cancer Care Manitoba says, “Money raised from the Inspire for Life Walk goes to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation and is earmarked for lung cancer research. Sponsors include Staples, with amazing support from manager Jason Steven, Maric Homes, Royal le Page, Heritage Electric, Healthy Strides Ltd, Winnipeg Prosthetics and Orthotics, Human Bean, 103.1 Virgin Radio, Printed Shirts, Old Dutch, BFL Canada Insurance Services, Atticus, and Waverly Hair Design.”
Folks will also have an opportunity to see surgeons perform; not on the operating table but as the musical group called Malpractice, who are donating their musical talents to the event.