Small Cell, Big Impact: New Virtual Small Cell Lung Cancer Group Kicks Off (Part 2)

The Dusty Joy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit serving the lung cancer community, has a growing network of monthly educational patient group meetings. One brand-new group that I am especially excited about is our Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) group. Below is information about our Small Cell Lung Cancer virtual group leaders, Montessa Lee, Pamela Bono, and Debbie Cox.

Meet Montessa Lee

Being diagnosed with Small Cell Lung Cancer was a shock to 28-year-old Montessa Lee, who had no known risk factors. Perhaps even more amazing is how Montessa did not allow her cancer diagnosis to determine her path in life.

Montessa LeeAlthough Small Cell Lung Cancer significantly impacted her life, it did not define who Montessa is or what she could accomplish. Her thriving life is full and inspirational. Montessa has a successful career as an educator of teachers of special needs students, which is a deep passion of hers. She specializes in working with students diagnosed with autism.

Montessa does not take her survivorship of Small Cell Lung Cancer for granted. She authored a book, “He Whispered Life,” which captures how her faith helped her overcome her lung cancer challenge.

In addition to being a lung cancer advocate, Montessa is a National Board Certified Teacher and Mentor Teacher. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from East Carolina University, a Master of Science in Special Education from Johns Hopkins University, and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education at Regent University.

Meet Pamela Bono

Pamela Bono has been a longtime member of our Triad, NC, lung cancer group. Pam was the catalyst for our organization to start this special group for the Small Cell community. Pam has fought this disease long and hard while continuing to work. Pam worked through months of intense chemotherapy, followed by radiation treatments, enduring severe side effects, including a burned esophagus from the radiation that required her to have feeding tubes attached to her hip for a month.

Pam Bono“It’s been 12 years and I’m still standing,” says Pamela Bono, Small Cell Lung Cancer Survivor. “They gave me three to six months.” Five years after her diagnosis, Pam developed brain metastasis which required surgery. Later, she also developed Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC), a serious bacterial infection affecting the lungs that often impacts people with compromised immune systems.

Although she has some memory loss, balance, and cognitive issues from cancer and treatment, Pam is passionate about helping other patients - especially those with Small Cell Lung Cancer.

Meet Debbie Cox

In 2007, when Debbie Cox was diagnosed with Extensive Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer, the doctor told her she had six months to live. Debbie had just lost her father to lung cancer the previous year.

Debbie CoxHer doctors treated her cancer aggressively, knowing how fast it was growing. She underwent chemotherapy, then had radiation therapy as a preventive measure.

“When my doctor said, ‘I'll give you between one and six months,’ I said, ‘You're my doctor, but you're not my maker. I'll just trust God.”

That was 15 years ago. Debbie has been cancer-free ever since.

Debbie became involved with a local lung cancer patient group soon after her diagnosis. She also volunteered and helped with fundraising events and other advocacy activities. She enjoys encouraging others who are going through cancer treatments.

“It's really important that people are encouraged when they're going through this,” says Debbie. “Even though the doctor says, I give you six months to live, that's not his call. We need to just keep fighting and keep doing everything we can.”

Debbie lives in North Carolina with her husband Donnie.

Bringing the SCLC community together

This new program is long overdue. It is a big deal to our organization, as well as the Small Cell Lung Cancer community. We have high hopes that it will benefit the Small Cell community as patients help other patients and everyone learns from experts and each other. We hope people facing a Small Cell diagnosis feel connected with others within the lung cancer community. Through supportive, educational monthly meetings, we expect patients will not only receive help, but will reach out to help others who are on a similar journey.

The new virtual Small Cell group kicks off at 6:30 pm ET, June 21, 2022. (RSVP at LiveLung to join the group.)

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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