Legwork for Lungs

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Why Lung Cancer?

Published on: August 31, 2016

Nastassja Kuznetsova - Race Director

Four and a half years ago, a close family friend of mine was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, a disease with a median survival of 8 months after diagnosis and a 1% 5 year survival rate. She went to the doctor because she had a little cough.

I was 12 years old at the time, old enough to undestand most of the gravity of the situation, and although the concept of death did and still does appear surreal, I knew that I wanted to somehow help. I also knew that she was not the kind of person to accept and be complacent with a deadly prognosis. Until the stage came that she couldn’t do so, she spent her time trying to live a normal life and enjoy life with her friends, relatives, husband, and young daughter. At one point she was functioning on one working lung, but that didn’t stop her from going to work in Manhattan every day she was able to.

She passed away this July. It was inevitable, but at the same time, her four and a half year battle put her above the vast majority of patients with the same condition. No doubt this was due to her incredibke spirit, but it was of course also tied to the treatment she received with her oncologist, Dr. Paik.

I’d like to think I made some sort of an impact too - I really tried. In 2014, when I was 13, I became a first-time race director of the first-ever Legwork for Lungs 5k because we decided that the best way for my family and I to thank her for her love and friendship was to help people in her sitution. This woman was a patient at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and has highly recommended this hospital as an organization truly worth donating to. Read more about MSKCC here.

We, the Legwork for Lungs team, are highly commited to continue this 5k as a yearly tradition. This year, our goal is to raise $10,000 for Dr. Paik’s research. And when we say research, we mean research. 100% of the proceeds go directly to him - our event expenses are covered by sponsors and we have ensured that every single penny gets transferred directly to the doctor. This was a crucial point in our partnership with the hospital, and we are proud to show these statistics.

As an avid runner, organizing a 5k made sense, particularly because running so heavily relies on functioning lungs. But organizing a 5k is hard, especially for a teenager and her friends, and this page explains how we did it and where our name came from.

Click here to see what this page looked like before July.

Lung Cancer Only Occurs in Smokers…Right?

7,300 people who never smoked die from lung cancer due to secondhand smoke every year.

While smokers do have a higher risk of lung cancer, according to cdc.gov, secondhand smoke, diet, radon (a naturally occurring gas that comes from rocks and dirt), and family history, all are risk factors. Worst of all, radiation therapy to the chest has been known to increase a person’s chance of lung cancer. A person may have survived breast cancer only to get lung cancer from previous treatment.

Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer, but smoking has also been linked to cause cancer of the mouth, nose, throat, voicebox (larynx), esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, stomach, blood, and bone marrow (acute myeloid leukemia). Lung cancer is not just a smoker’s disease; there are lots of lung cancer patients who have never picked up a cigarette in their lives.

Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancers, second to only skin cancer. Lung cancer is also one of the most fatal, accounting for 27% of cancer deaths. In 2015, the estimate for new cancer cases is about 221,200. There is so much we do not know about lung cancer, but you can be sure that it’s research is something worth donating for.

All statistics credited to various pages on cdc.gov as well as cancer.org.