Feeling Fit – October 3, 2015

This is the time of year when I start to get anxious. October 5th will mark the 8th anniversary since I was diagnosed with inoperable Stage IIIA Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. This week I get my annual surveillance blood test and CT scan to see if I am still cancer free. I call this annual anxious feeling around scan time “scanxiety.” It is always an unsettling time of year for me.

Except for some neuropathy in my feet (an after-effect of platinum-based chemotherapy) I feel fine, but I’ve learned my lesson. I now know that I could have a tumor in my lung and not know it. (You have no nerve endings in your lung, so you might have a tumor and never feel it before it’s too late!) Surveillance is the only way to be sure I remain cancer free. If you are a smoker or former smoker or someone who has been extensively exposed to second-hand smoke, annual surveillance could be right for you too!

In January 2013 I decided to focus my advocacy efforts on promoting lung cancer screening and early detection, which I believe is the most direct way to save and extend lives. I launched the Lung Cancer Research Council Inc. as a 501(c) 3 non-profit. My philosophy, unlike other cancer charities, has been to have no fixed overhead or paid personnel. We have low operational cost and to devote every dollar raised to the mission of promoting lung cancer awareness, screening and early detection. If I can succeed by raising program funding using nothing but volunteers, then I know the community at large believes in what I am doing.

I have to say, my timing could not have been better. In December of 2013 the US Preventative Services Task Force endorsed low-dose CT scan as an evidence based screening protocol, which made lung cancer screening available for the first time to anyone age 55 and older who had a 30 pack-year history of smoking or quit smoking less than 15 years ago. That endorsement was followed by Medicare and Medicaid also accepting and reimbursing low-dose CT as an evidence-based protocol for lung cancer screening.

If you are someone who fits the screening profile and have private insurance or are on Medicare of Medicaid, you are entitled to get an annual screening without paying any deductible or co-pay. I urge anyone who is a former smoker to get screened every year and share this article with anyone you know who should be screened. Screening save lives.

The other reason I always get anxious at this time of year is all the work I have to do to get ready for the SW Florida Lung Cancer 5K Run/Walk and Mile of Memories Walk scheduled this year for November 7th.   November is lung cancer awareness month, and I get anxious because I really need a lot of help to run this annual event.

We’ve been working hard to make our website easier to navigate and to sign up to run or walk in our annual race or create an online fundraising team. If you have not done so already, check out our re-designed website at www.lungcancerresearchcouncil.org My goal this year is to have 1,000 or more people at our November 7th race, but I want to emphasize, you don’t have to run or walk, or even be there to participate!

Anyone who wants to help can create an online fundraising team on our website and then share their online team website through social media. This will help spread the word about our efforts as well as help us raise funding. Check out our website or our Facebook page and share it with people you know!

Every year we put out memorial signs to remember the people who died from lung cancer. Sadly, 158,000 die every year. There are voiceless millions in America who would be advocating for lung cancer had they survived their battle with the disease. The Mile of Memories Walk is to honor those we have lost. If you know someone who has lost their life to lung cancer, you can submit their name and memorialize them at the Mile of Memories Walk. To have a sign made for a friend or loved one, visit the Lung Cancer Research Council’s website.

Finally, I must recognize the caring and generosity of our presenting sponsor, South Florida Ford, as well as our other major sponsors, including Florida Cancer Specialists, Morgan Stanley, McDonnell Dermatology, Truly Nolen, CeJay Associates, Buffalo Graffix, Florida Weekly, Sun Newspapers, Marketing Arm International, Pulmonary Sleep and Critical Care Specialists, and the Farr Law Firm. We could not hold our race without these sponsors, so please patronize these companies and thank them for what they are doing to help raise lung cancer awareness!

If you or your business would like to be a sponsor, make a donation, or volunteer to help at this year’s race, please contact me at tcappiello@np.zypha.com or visit The Lung Cancer Research Council website at www.lcrcinc.org .

Now get on your marks, get set, and go help raise awareness and funding for the leading cause of cancer death in America!

 

Thomas E Cappiello is an eight year lung-cancer survivor and founder and president of The Lung Cancer Research Council, Inc., a non-profit charity dedicated to promoting lung cancer awareness, screening and early detection. Write to him at tcappiello@np.zypha.com or visit www.lungcancerresearchcouncil.org