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!



New Scan Results: My World has Flipped

Friends and Family,

Genevieve and I flew to San Diego for the day yesterday to meet with my oncologist, and to get the results of my latest CT scan. This is roughly our twenty-fifth time around this block, and this one was the weirdest of them all.

It started a few days before the trip. Several people knew I was flying to see my oncologist. Each one told me to have a safe trip. Have a safe trip??? I’m meeting with my oncologist to find out if my cancer has grown, and possibly how long I might live, and they’re worried about the plane ride???

Next came the CT scan. Since I outlasted my clinical trial, I no longer have to have the scans with contrast. That means I no longer have to have radioactive dye flushing through my bloodstream when I get tested. Each time that dye shot through my veins, it would instantly cause the part of the body it reached next to turn hot, like a geyser’s steam with no release valve. Oddly, the first place it always zeroed in on was my groin. (Better blood supply?) From there it gushed throughout each different part of my body, having the same effect, eventually leaving a metallic taste in my mouth. It felt like something verrrry important must be happening.

That sense of something monstrously important happening is gone now. All I do is lie down on the table and follow the instructions that have been burned into my psyche by repetition: “Breathe deep. Hold your breath.” This lasts for about fifteen seconds, and gets repeated about three times. Now it feels like nothing is happening, and this scan is no big deal.

Things have even changed at home. Genevieve looked at me and said, “I’m not worried this time. Are you?” I told her I wasn’t worried based on any symptoms, but that I was still kind of anxious because there is so much at stake. She admitted that part was true for her, too.

Even the flight down has gotten easier. The flight leaves later in the morning now, which means we get most of a night’s sleep before getting up to go to the airport, instead of getting half a night’s sleep. Where’s the sacrifice in that?

I called the doctor’s office on our way from the airport to let him know our plane had been delayed, and we would be a half-hour late. When we arrived, the nurse told us, “Dr. Patel said your being late was no biggie, because you would be easy.” And this was before he saw my scan results.

So even my doctor thinks this is no big deal anymore?

And then he popped in the room and told us the results of the scan:  NO CHANGE! WOOHOO!

Except it wasn’t “woohoo.” It was more like “whew.”

And that’s the weird part.

We’ve gone from a time when getting the latest “verdict” was the biggest possible thing in our world, to getting the news and not even being able to muster anything more than relief.

It’s sad in a way, because there is nothing more exhilarating than finding out your life has been extended. Until it happens with such regularity that it becomes the new normal.

I try to keep this in perspective. Just lately, lung cancer friends of mine from all over the country that have been stable for years, have had progression of their cancer. Several of them are going through some pretty harsh chemo for the first time, and the span of time that they can trust that they will still be alive is more immediate. Matt, a friend that has been important to me for many years, passed away a few months ago. I have constant reminders of how fortunate I am, and yet getting the best possible news results only in a big exhale.

I’ve had to question myself. Have I become ungrateful? Nope, that’s not it.

Have I forgotten what it’s like to find out my cancer is growing again? Nah, that’s way too easy to conjure up again.

So what is it?

Let’s look at an example: If you were to bungee jump off a cliff for the first time, you would probably see your life flash before your eyes, and your heart would pound out of your chest. Not much else would go on in your brain, since the big thing you’re thinking about is if you’re going to die.

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So what would happen if you bungee jumped 25 times?

As more and more jumps went by, you would probably start thinking about how comfortable the harness was, and what you thought of the guide, and what the weather was like this time. The fear of death isn’t so great anymore.

What happens that makes this so different with repetition?

This reminds me of a study I read about in college. The subjects were given visors to wear during every waking hour. These visors turned their world upside down. At first it was hard to even walk, but after a while the subjects got the hang of it. However, after a couple of weeks, something surprising happened. These subjects’ visual world flipped. Now, everything looked right side up again while they were wearing the visors. When they took the visors off, the world looked upside down.


So what’s the takeaway?

Given enough time, our brains adapt to any new “normal” we can throw at it. If your life is constantly threatened, getting scan results stops seeming so threatening.  

I’m a little sad that I don’t get that same exhilaration anymore when we get scan results, but I’ve decided I’m OK with that.


Because I may be setting records for length of time being on Tagrisso, but this also means that I have been doing so well, for so long, that my world has “flipped” right-side up again. This is the new normal.

I’ll take that any day. Wouldn’t you?



Another Trip to San Diego, but Things are Changing

Friends and Family, 

Since Genevieve and I first started going to San Diego for my clinical trial, a lot has changed. UCSD has built three new buildings and a parking structure on the campus. The city has widened the roads on two sides of the campus, and the bones of a new elevated trolley have appeared. We have been through three different nurses assigned to work with Dr. Patel, and this is our sixth clinical trial coordinator. In fact, the only people that have remained constant have been Dr. Patel, and the woman at the Budget rental car window that we see every trip.

There is one other thing that hasn’t changed, and that is my scan results. 50 months after starting this trial, we are still overwhelmed every time we make the 1,000 mile flight and hear the words, “there is no change.” This gift of 40 “bonus” months beyond the average  (and counting!) means that there is more time for the next new treatment that could extend my life to be developed. I may just outrun this cancer yet!

There is one other change, and it’s a good one. I outlasted my clinical trial! While I will still keep going to San Diego for my care, and my daily Tagrisso pill will remain free for as long as it works for me, they are no longer collecting data. So, starting with this last trip, there are no more echocardiograms and EKGs every three months, and I no longer have to get radioactive contrast die injected in my veins every time I get a CT scan. HUGE relief on that one. Things couldn’t get much easier! We have an unbelievable amount to be grateful for.

I also wanted to tell you about my book giveaway. In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I gave away the digital version of my book to anyone who ordered one on Amazon in the last three days of November. That random number of books given away turned out to be 433. And while I was quite happy to give away that many, the significance of the number didn’t hit me until I shared it with some blogger friends. They immediately asked me if I gave away that number on purpose, since 433 is the number of people that die every day of lung cancer. You will find a lot of social media posts with #433 or #433aday. Amazing! 

One more thing to share, and that’s my next new Thriving With Cancer Minute on You Tube.  Here’s the link:

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Hoping all is going well with you, and you find much to be grateful for.



Thriving With Cancer Minute: Love

Friends and Family,

Not everybody feels like sitting down to read a book, especially in the holiday season. Here’s the next best thing: I’m starting a series of very short (roughly one minute) videos based on my book. I call the series your Thriving With Cancer Minute. This week’s video is about LOVE. Here’s the link: