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I hope this message finds you well and surrounded by loved ones over this Thanksgiving holiday. I could not think of a better time to express my gratitude and appreciation for all of you. It has been over a month since the Javelina. Thanks to your support, prayers, well wishes and generous contributions, the event was a great success. We raised over $29,000 (and counting) for the foundation and more significantly, a great deal of awareness for lung cancer. That awareness message will continue as this fight goes on and I remain and always will be "all in." On this day of thanks, I offer my most sincere thanks to all of you for the selflessness and the kindness you have shown me. Your continued support is a source of inspiration and motivation.
Nearly one year ago, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.
As a 46 year old husband and the father of two teenage daughters, my initial reaction was one of shock and disbelief. I am a "never smoker" and I have been healthy, active and fit my entire life.
As a 23 year veteran of the Secret Service and a supervisory Special Agent in the Phoenix Field Office, I have grown accustomed to long hours, few days off and periods of heavy travel. Outside of the random cold, I have never been sick. To this day, lung cancer seems impossible.
My diagnosis was practically accidental. I experienced a persistent cough for several weeks and finally sought treatment at an urgent care facility for what I assumed was a chest cold. Roughly two weeks later I learned the extent of my illness: Stage 4 lung cancer with brain and lymph node metastases. I have too many tumors in my lungs to count. The tumors in my brain number double digits. The five year survival rate for advanced stage lung cancer is five percent.
Yet, I know I am one of the lucky ones. I have the unwavering support of family, friends and colleagues. I am receiving expert cancer care from Dr. Helen Ross and my oncology team at the Mayo Clinic Arizona.
In the last five years, there have been a number of breakthroughs in lung cancer treatments. But much work remains.
Lung cancer kills more people in the United States than any other cancer. In fact, more Americans die from lung cancer each year than the next three deadliest cancers combined (colorectal, breast and pancreatic). Lung cancer continues to be stigmatized as a "smoker's disease".
I am proof positive that is a myth. More and more young people, athletes and never smokers are diagnosed each year. No one is immune from lung cancer. If you have lungs you can get lung cancer.
Due to this stigma, lung cancer receives too little attention and comparatively, minimal funding. Despite accounting for 24% of all cancer deaths , only 6% of the federal government dollars spent on cancer research are spent on lung cancer research.
With your support, we can turn that around. We can raise awareness, remove the stigma, increase the disproportionate funding, boost research efforts and change outcomes for those living with lung cancer.
Initially, I was shocked by my diagnosis. Soon, I became frustrated by the statistics and funding levels. I am now motivated. Motivated to act and advocate for those battling this disease and to honor the memory of those who are no longer able.
To mark my first year in the fight, and in advance of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I am participating in the Javelina Jundred 100k trail run on October 26, 2019, to raise much needed funding and awareness.
I am proud to be joined by the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer (formerly known as Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and Lung Cancer Alliance). GO2 Foundation is working hard to turn lung cancer into a manageable, chronic disease and ultimately, a curable disease. We are close to reaching that goal but we need your help. I ask that you please consider donating to this worthwhile cause or sponsoring me in this event.
Thank you in advance,