I haven’t had a chance to say THANK YOU to everyone that supported our efforts this year to raise lung cancer awareness and promote screening and early detection. Right after the November 7th 5K Run/Walk, Yoko and I went on a four-day cruise to the Bahama’s. When we got back, I took off for a weekend in Columbus Ohio to reunite with college friends. After that came Thanksgiving. We visited Orlando to see two of our daughters and share the weekend with their families. Yes, I have been in “go mode” pretty much non-stop since the race, so I’ve had no time to write!

I still don’t have a final accounting, but as of this date I think our 5K Run/Walk raised something on the order of $55,000 and netted $30,000 thanks to the support of our sponsors, 38 fundraising teams and our 50 volunteers! Every cent we raise helps the cause of promoting lung cancer screening and early detection in order to reduce lung cancer mortality and save or extend lives.

The Lung Cancer Research Council had a few small but exciting successes in 2015. We partnered with The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) to produce the Non-Small Cell Patient Guide, which is now being distributed nationally. Our next project with NCCN for early 2016 is to sponsor their Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines for Physicians, which will also be distributed throughout the country. NCCN is the world’s foremost leader in producing screening guidelines.

I recently had lunch with the CEOs of both Millennium and Fawcett Memorial Hospital to talk about what more we could do to increase lung cancer screening here in Charlotte County. Millennium has now has built lung cancer screening questions into their electronic medical records and has installed low-dose CT equipment in several locations, including Port Charlotte and Naples. The group is expected to be up-and running to schedule patient screenings this week. Please speak with your Millennium Group Physician about getting screened.

The question that arises next is, what happens if you get screened and a nodule is found? What are the next steps that need to be taken? Once cancer is found, someone needs to be quarterbacking care, since a lung cancer diagnosis will frequently involve many specialist physicians, including oncologists, radiologists, pulmonologists, radiology oncologists, surgeons, cardiologists, endocrinologists, etc. Cancer centers, like Moffitt, generally have better outcomes for patients because they provide coordinated care. Unfortunately, cancer centers are hard to access. What we want to create in Charlotte County is virtual coordinated care.  Millennium Physicians Group has a newly employed nurse navigator for just this purpose. What we’ve been talking about with Millennium, Fawcett, and Florida Cancer Specialists is how to expand coordinated care throughout Charlotte County to improve patient outcomes. I hope I’ll have more to say about this as we enter the New Year. Suffice it to say, we are making progress and I am hopeful that more people are going to survive lung cancer in the future.

I read an article not too long ago where Goldman Sachs is predicting that mortality from all cancers will be greatly reduced in the future thanks to cloud computing. The results of genetic testing on tumors is being shared via the internet with an ever expanding database of patients. The result is that, more and more, figuring out what drugs will work for a given cancer is no longer going to be a just guessing game. Database evidence and highly personalized cancer care holds the promise of our finally making the progress in the War on Cancer we had hoped for when the effort was started back in 1971.

A good friend of mine came to the office a month ago and handed me a small leather-bound book he had purchased as a gift for me called “A Focused Life.” The book is composed of 30 chapters intended to be read as a daily devotional over the course of thirty days. I have been faithfully reading a chapter each day and praying for all those I love. Call it a coincidence, but one of the people for whom I say a daily prayer is my friend Marc Cohen. Marc has been valiantly battling Stage IV lung cancer now for four years. He shared with me this week that he is officially in remission. Praise God!

I also received a today message from a total stranger, Nell Yang, who lives in California. Nell was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer recently, after having survived a Stage I-B diagnosis back in 2011. She writes: Had I read your book back in 2011, I would have done things quite differently. I am re-reading your book and now hanging on every word.”

Proverbs 1:33 says “But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.” I pray all my readers have a Merry Christmas and good health and happiness in the New Year!