Community Advocates

In order to stay up to date on the latest treatments, drug discovery, clinical studies, and how to cope with lung cancer every day, LungCancer.net brings you frequent articles, blogs, opinions, and advice from leading patient advocates and professional medical experts.

American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is leading the way in helping all Americans breathe easier. As the nation’s oldest voluntary health organization, we are America’s trusted source for lung health education, lung disease research, support, programs, services and advocacy. Since 1904, we have led the fight for healthy lungs and healthy air, whether it’s searching for cures to lung diseases, keeping kids off tobacco, or fighting for laws that protect the air we all breathe. Read more.

Dave Bjork

​Dave Bjork is a lung cancer survivor who was diagnosed when he was 34 years old and his boys were 5, 3 and 1 years old. After his diagnosis, his life was forever changed. There were appointments with respiratory specialists, CT scans, MRIs, surgeons, and lots of time to worry “am I going to die?” After the lobectomy (removal of half of his left lung), came months of treatment and painful recovery. He kept telling himself, “one day at a time…one hour at a time…one minute at a time”. Read more.

Alisa Brenes

I am a 17.5 year Stage 3 lung cancer survivor/advocate, diagnosed just months after my Mom passed away from lung cancer (I have a family history of lung cancer going back generations). I am a single mother of twin boys who were 10 years old at the time of my diagnosis and I didn’t know if I would be around to see them graduate elementary school. Not only did I see that graduation, but I saw them graduate Jr. High, High School and University! Read more.

Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo

Yolanda is the Founder and Executive Director of Mae’s Breath Foundation 501c (3) a lung cancer awareness organization which promotes and provides information to the community on lung wellness. The premise of the organization began immediately after losing her mother Eartha (AKA Mae) from the disease. It’s been a mission of hers to assist in guidance by bringing awareness to this stigmatized disease, with dignity for those who come close to it. Read more.

Lysa Buonanno

I am a mom to two great kids and I’m lucky enough to be married to my best friend. After recently graduating from college, at 40 years old, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. It’s not the diagnosis I expected from a lingering back pain. It took me some time to wrap my head around it all, but once I did, I knew I needed to find my new purpose in life. This is when I became an advocate. Read more.

Kristine Cherol

Kristine’s life instantly changed when her husband (then boyfriend) John was diagnosed with Stage IV NSCLC (EGFR+) at age 28 in January 2016. She became John’s primary caregiver, medical researcher and then advocate. During John’s battle, they relocated from Ohio to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where Kristine currently resides. On September 9, 2017, they had the wedding of their dreams. John underwent two types of targeted therapies (Gilotrif and Tagrisso), standard chemotherapy, numerous rounds of external beam radiation to bone mets, three rounds of Gamma Knife radiation for brain mets, and SBRT for spinal lesions. On January 6, 2018, John passed away with Kristine by his side on the two year anniversary of his diagnosis. Read more.

Denise Cutlip

Denise Cutlip was diagnosed with stage 4 Adenocarcinoma of the Lung in October of 2010. At that time they told her she might live 10-15 months with aggressive treatments. Fortunately, they didn’t tell her when to start counting those months. She had a tremendous response to concurrent chemo and radiation. She has not yet experienced any progression, but has experienced several long term side effects from both treatments and side effects caused by management of those side effects. Read more.

Dusty Donaldson

Dusty Donaldson was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005, at the age of 51. She underwent surgery to remove two lobes from her right lung, followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. She completed treatment within six months of her diagnosis and has been out of treatment since March 2006. Read more.

Ivy Elkins

In December 2013, Ivy Elkins was diagnosed at age 47 with EGFR positive stage IV lung cancer that had metastasized to her bones and brain. She has been treated successfully with targeted therapy medications since her diagnosis, thus allowing her to lead an active life and handle her lung cancer as a chronic disease. Ivy receives her treatment at the University of Chicago and lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband Ben and her two teenaged boys. Read more.

Jill Feldman

Jill Feldman is a lung cancer patient and activist. When Jill was 13 years old, she lost her father and two grandparents to lung cancer within a period of eight months. Fourteen years later, her mom and close aunt succumbed to the disease within a two-year period. Jill was a volunteer, an advocate and past president of LUNGevity Foundation before the unthinkable happened. In 2009, at 39 years old with four small children, Jill herself was diagnosed with lung cancer. Read more.

Donna Fernandez

Hi, I am Donna Fernandez! I am a daughter, wife, mom, grandmother, animal lover extraordinaire, and a lung cancer survivor. I am a native Texan, a relatively rare breed these days! I was born in Dallas, but I grew up in West Texas, oil country. I moved back to the Dallas area after high school and have been here ever since. Read more.

Anita Figueras

Anita Figueras has been a lung cancer patient since 2014, when she was diagnosed with stage IV adenocarcinoma. She has an EGFR mutation, and has developed the T790M resistance mutation. Anita is on her third line of treatment. She participated in the Clovis Pharmaceuticals’ phase II trial for CO-1686, and spoke to the FDA’s Oncologic Drug Advisory Committee about her experience on the experimental drug. She was diagnosed with MS 20 years ago, and has long experience with living with a chronic illness. Read more.

Mariah Zebrowski Leach

Mariah is a writer and patient advocate who lives in Colorado with her husband and two young sons. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in the middle of law school, Mariah now uses her law degree to help people with chronic health issues. Read more.

Kimberly Lester

​Kimberly Lester has been a lung cancer advocate ever since her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005. In addition to volunteering with numerous lung cancer organizations, she and her mother founded the Dusty Joy Foundation (LiveLung), and recently co-authored The ABCs of Lung Cancer: for Patients and Advocates. Read more.

Karen Loss

At the time of her diagnosis of non-small-cell lung cancer on Thanksgiving weekend in 2012, Karen was already a nearly 16-year survivor of concurrent primary cancers of the uterus and ovaries. Following a lengthy interval of testing to determine what was causing recurrent “chest attacks,” most of which involved doctors looking for gall bladder causes, a CT scan of her chest finally revealed masses in her right lung’s lower lobe and on the hepatic dome of her liver. Read more.

Kathi MacNaughton, RN, BSN

I am an experienced consumer health education writer who had a career in nursing that spanned more than 30 years, much of it in the field of home health care, working with chronically ill people. I am also an avid fitness enthusiast and all-round advocate for healthy living. I believe that patients and families have not only a right, but also the responsibility to take charge of their own health. No one needs to give in to a disease or to the aging process! It is possible to continue to live a quality life. Read more.

Alison Petok, MSW, LCSW, MPH

Alison Petok is an oncology social worker; she received her Master in Social Work and Master in Public Health from the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked in oncology research and currently serves as a clinical social worker in the Department of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University. In her current role she serves as the palliative medicine social worker, provides clinical services to patients and families, mentors current MPH students, and manages biopsychosocial screening programs. Read more.

Jeffrey Poehlmann

Author and filmmaker, Jeffrey Poehlmann has worked in virtually every form of media over the past 30 years. With a degree in Cinematic Arts from the University of Southern California, he has managed through some very shrewd maneuvering to remain less famous than many of his classmates. However, hIs diagnosis with Stage 4 non-small cell adenocarcinoma and the resulting sudden interest in his blog, Just Bad For You, has threatened this carefully crafted life of anonymity. Read more.

Cyndi Price

My goal is to help those who are diagnosed, having problems or just want someone to listen to them. Lung cancer is a horrible disease and treatment is hard, I know this. We are making goals, we are living longer and healthier. I am here to help, care and sometimes make you laugh. I am here living with stage 4 lung cancer with metastasis I am fighting and want you to join me.Read more.

Lora Rhodes

​Lora received her BS in psychology from Penn State University and MSW from Rutgers University. A social worker for over 25 years, she returned to clinical work in 2014 at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, where she began her career in oncology social work in 1996. In her current role she provides support services to patients from young adults to seniors. Read more.

Nicole Russell

​My name is Nicole and I am a 37 year old Mom and Wife living in Raleigh, North Carolina. I have lived in New York most of my childhood and landed in the south by way of the military. I was a Paralegal Specialist for the United States Army from 2000-2003 and was stationed in South Korea and Virginia. After the military, I become a Paralegal for the Department of the Army as a Civilian Federal Employee and then as a Legal Technician for the EEOC. I was diagnosed with Stage IV Non Small Cell Lung Cancer on February 24, 2016 with mets to spine, pelvis and brain. Read more.

Chris Sabia

Chris Sabia is 38 and lives in Stamford, Connecticut with his wife Emma. In December 2016, they had their first child, CJ. They also have Geno, the best dog in the world. Chris is a graduate of Stonehill College where he majored in English and played baseball. Read more.

Don Stranathan

I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer in June of 2009. Since my girlfriend Penny passed in 2014 from small cell lung cancer I have dedicated myself to advocating for lung cancer research and awareness. Read more.

Julie Swedberg

In June of 2016, at the age of 41, Julie was diagnosed with Stage IV adenocarcinoma, with cancer in both lungs, lymph nodes and breast bone. Julie has undergone two major surgeries since her diagnosis. The first to remove a stubborn tumor in her right lower lobe with a VATS wedge resection, and most recently, a femur stabilization surgery, including curettage and cementing of a tumor in the left femur, followed by radiation. Julie is currently on her second line of treatment, Tagrisso, after 20 months on Tarceva. Read more.

Jennifer Toth

Jennifer Toth, a mom of 7 grown children, was working full time and part time as a freelance writer when Lung Cancer came knocking at the door in January 2014. Since that day she has had surgery to remove both left lung lobes, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. She is currently receiving Opdivo every two weeks to treat metastasis to her lymph nodes and right upper lung lobe. Read more.

Samantha Mixon Thompson

Samantha is 37 years old and currently lives on St. Simons Island, GA. After graduation from Georgia State University in 2002 with her Bachelors in Science with a concentration in Public Administration, she went on to become the HR Director for a subprime finance company on the outskirts of Atlanta. Towards the beginning of 2012, she began experiencing excruciating headaches and extreme fatigue. After many months of living like this, and not even a month after her 34th birthday, she was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer adenocarcinoma and tested positive for the EGFR mutation. Read more.

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