Get a Free Copy of My Book - Today Only

Friends and Family,

In honor of November being Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I am giving away FREE digital copies of my book on Amazon. OFFER IS GOOD TODAY ONLY.

Here’s the link: https://amzn.to/2PJ4lsN

Second Wind Cover.png

And just to give you a few eye-opening facts about lung cancer while you are here:

  • Lung cancer kills more people than breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer COMBINED.

  • 60-65% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers.

  • 10-15% of lung cancer cases are never-smokers.

  • Lung cancer kills 1.5 times as many women as breast cancer.

  • Breast cancer receives almost seven times as much federal funding per life lost as lung cancer.

Love,

Dann

Lung Cancer's Other Silent Killer

Friends and Family,

I volunteered to participate in a research project to find out what works and what doesn’t with clinical trials. While I normally focus on how Genevieve and I are facing our challenges through this eventful cancer journey, these clinical trial questions lit a fire under me about an area that almost never gets talked about. It’s the cost of treatment, even in a “free” clinical trial, where the drug itself is free. It’s time to make some noise, because this impacts almost every one of us.

Clinical Trial.jpg

Through my own trial I’ve learned about how costs of care during a trial get distributed. While the trial sponsor covers the cost of expenses that are specific to the trial, insurance companies pay for any treatment that is considered Standard of Care. But what is Standard of Care? It doesn’t seem to me that it would be Standard of Care to get a CT scan every six weeks, or have an echocardiogram, which I had never had before. Regardless, my insurance company footed the bill. Not all of it, of course. I have a co-pay. In the past five years of trial participation, these co-pays have totaled over $25,000. While medical providers will work with people based on ability to pay, most end up on payment plans that will extend beyond their lifetime.

And then there is the cost of travel to the trial. My trial is in San Diego, a thousand miles from my Portland home. Fortunately, travel schedules line up so that we can fly out at 6:30 AM, and return on a 6:30 PM flight. It was a very tight squeeze to get all the testing done in one day, until I proposed that I get my CT scans in Portland, before coming to San Diego. We are fortunate that this has worked, or we would have had to add hotel expenses for the last 38 flights. As it is, air fare, ground transportation, parking, and meals have totaled over $22,000. Imagine if I had to travel further from home, like two of my friends who live nearby in Vancouver, Washington, who were both in a trial at MD Anderson in Texas. Each trip required a day to get there, one to three days at the trial center, and a day to fly home. I imagine that their total cost was many times what Genevieve and I have paid.

By the way, I advocated to have my travel expenses paid for by the trial (the clinic), my insurance company, and the trial sponsor (drug company), and none would cover any of the costs.

Combined, we have spent almost $10,000 per year to participate in a “free” clinical trial. We are extremely fortunate that we are able to afford these expenses. If not, I would no longer be alive.

To put this in perspective, there was a recent USA Today article about a survey that showed that 40% of Americans couldn’t afford to cover a $400 unexpected expense. How would a cancer survivor, who most often has had to unexpectedly stop working due to their health, pay $10,000 per year?

Ignoring the clinical trial for a moment, the cost of cancer treatment is an extraordinary financial burden, even with insurance.

Last Summer, Genevieve and I went to the LUNGevity HOPE Summit. (This is an awe-inspiring event for any survivor or caregiver, by the way. Learn more HERE.) During the Summit, I led some small-group sessions discussing the biggest non-health challenges to dealing with cancer. Finances were the number one concern, and by a wide margin. Several had declared bankruptcy, or were close to it, including a friend of mine who had never talked about it.

In short, we have another silent killer on the loose besides lung cancer – one that even people with lung cancer, who are used to dealing with stigma every day, won’t even say out loud. It’s the cost of treatment. And the cost of travel to get to treatment. And the lost wages due to the illness. I have no doubt that there are people who refuse treatment, simply because they do not want to place that financial burden on their families. This breaks my heart.

While we need to solve this problem, I couldn’t very well gnash my teeth and whine about this without being accountable in some way. My response was to search the web for every form of financial assistance for people with lung cancer. As a result, I have added a new page to my blog. Click on the tab that says “Financial Resources” to see what is available.

And now it’s your turn. Make some noise about the high cost of treatment for cancer survivors, any way you can. If we are successful, more people will live longer, and have more to live for.

Love,

Dann

From Fear Factor to the Heimlich Maneuver to My 13th Cancerversary, this Trip Had Everything

Friends and Family,

If you want to add more drama to your life, you just can’t beat lung cancer. It makes the old Disneyland Tower of Terror ride seem more like riding the teacups in comparison.

Teacups2.jpg

First, there was the new  cough. It started two months ago. Genevieve and I had endless discussions about it. Was it getting worse? Better? Is there something else it could be? When you are healthy, a cough like that might be annoying, but you do your best to ignore it and wait for it to go away. When you have cancer, a headache two days in a row makes you wonder if the cancer has spread to your brain. There is no random symptom too small to raise the question: “Does this mean my cancer is growing?”

When that symptom is in the same place as the cancer, well, it’s hard not to go there. As a result, Genevieve and I have been snapping at each other for weeks leading up to this latest CT scan, and our subsequent trip from Portland to San Diego to get the results. I was nearly certain we would find out that my extraordinary ride of four years and nine months without progression, on a drug that normally leads to progression within thirteen months, was over. The Fear Factor had taken over.

Fear Factor.jpg

However.

I have been extraordinarily bad at knowing when my cancer is growing. I had no symptoms before I was diagnosed the first time, when it was Stage III. I had no symptoms five years later when I was diagnosed the second time, when it was Stage IV. The cancer has progressed twice since then, and I didn’t know it was happening either time. To confuse things even more, there have been many times when I thought it had grown, but I was wrong. I like to think I’m a good judge of character, but I have to admit that I’m a horrible judge of the character of my cancer.

This time, we thrilled that my cancer judgement was so bad! We got the results, and there has been no growth again! UN-FREAKING BELIEVABLE!

And to top it off, we just celebrated my thirteenth cancerversary! Not bad for a guy with Stage IV lung cancer, eh?

cancerversary.jpg

We were almost giddy as we sat down for lunch. But right after we started, Genevieve started gagging and choking. We stopped thinking about my survival over the coming months, and started thinking about Genevieve’s survival in the next few minutes. She could breathe just enough to ask me to do the Heimlich maneuver, which I did unsuccessfully. A small crowd gathered, including a man who had just passed his CPR certification. He thumped Genevieve on the back several times, which was also unsuccessful. While this man,  several others and I problem-solved, Genevieve continued to wheeze and gag. We were all terrified.

Heimlich Maneuver.jpg

It became clearer as time went on that, while Genevieve was still gagging, she was able to breathe… just enough. She thought it was a pill lodged in her throat. A good half-hour of continued gagging later, the pill dissolved enough for the episode to mostly pass.

Our celebration flipped on its head and instead reminded us of the fragility of life for everyone. It was also a vivid reminder of how much Genevieve means to me, and how grateful I am to have her. The thought of losing her terrified me, and made my concerns about my own CT scan seem trivial. It’s true what Genevieve tells me: It’s much harder when your partner’s life is at stake.

The end result could not be better. Genevieve is back to breathing normally, and there is still no end in sight to my extraordinary good fortune with my Tagrisso clinical trial. And to top it all off, we BOTH have a greater appreciation for each other.

All in all, that’s a pretty great trip, don’t you think? Now, we have four more months to think about it.

I hope all is well for you, too, my friend.

Love,

Dann

Thriving With Cancer Minute #26: Say Yes More Often

Friends and Family,

It can be easy to let your world shrink and get in a rut, especially if you have cancer. Here’s an idea for spicing things up.

Also, you can help fight lung cancer by joining the Lung Love Run/Walk Portland this Saturday, June 22nd, or by donating to support lung cancer research. Here’s the link:  https://lungloverunwalkportland.yournextstepisthecure.org/

My team is Live Lung and Prosper.

Love,

Dann

Thriving With Cancer Minute #25: Secret Weapon for Kicking Cancer in the Keister

Friends and Family,

Survivors like us will try every trick in the book to kick cancer in the keister. Here is one of the most powerful tools I know:

It’s almost that time! The Lung Love Run/Walk will be on Saturday, June 22nd in Laurelhurst Park in Portland. If you would like to join our team (Live Lung and Prosper) or donate to support lung cancer research, go to https://lungloverunwalkportland.yournextstepisthecure.org/.

Love,

Dann

Thriving With Cancer Minute #24: Loving Yourself

Friends and Family,

 

Giving and receiving love are the most healing things we can do for ourselves. The real challenge is in loving yourself.

 

Here are some thoughts.

Also, you can help fight lung cancer by joining the Lung Love Run/Walk Portland on June 22nd, or by donating to support lung cancer research.

Here’s the page to join my team, Live Lung and Prosper:: https://lungloverunwalkportland.yournextstepisthecure.org/

Here’s the page to donate: https://lungloverunwalkportland.yournextstepisthecure.org/Dann?tab=MyPage&fbclid=IwAR2SILQAlxxumko_3ZV47l9Usk25rqjwnVexCPwCcFtq5EO58LrEhvcDdw0

Love,

Dann

The Lung Love Run/Walk is Just Around the Corner

Friends and Family,

It’s almost that time! Help fight lung cancer by joining Genevieve and me and our team, Live Lung and Prosper, at the Lung Love Run/Walk on Saturday, June 22nd in Laurelhurst Park. The event is 5K, and as the name implies, you can run or walk. (A few people have been known to stop after two of the three laps around the park, so anything goes.)

 You also have the option of donating. We are 1/3 the way toward our team goal of raising $2,000. Every dollar makes a difference for lung cancer research, advocacy, and support of our growing ranks of survivors!

 Here’s the page to join: https://lungloverunwalkportland.yournextstepisthecure.org/

 Here’s the page to donate: https://lungloverunwalkportland.yournextstepisthecure.org/Dann?tab=MyPage

 Hoping you’ll participate, one way or another!

 Love,

 Dann

Fight Lung Cancer With One Finger

Friends and Family,

There are two easy ways that you can help fight lung cancer using just one finger, and I’m going to make it even easier. Just click the links. Here they are:

1) In 2009, Congress allocated $20M per year for lung cancer research. It has never been close to that amount since. To sign the petition to restore funding, take action here. I have lobbied for this same $20M in Washington for the past three years. You can do it without all the travel. THE DEADLINE FOR SIGNATURES IS MARCH 26TH.

2) The Lung Love Run/Walk Portland is coming up on Saturday, June 22nd at Laurelhurst Park. To join my team, Live Lung and Prosper, to donate, or form your own team, click here. Funds for this event will go to cancer research and advocacy through Lung Cancer Alliance, the organization I support in these efforts.

You can do all this with one finger if you’re a hunt ‘n pecker.

Let’s kick some cancer booty!

Love,

Dann