Profiles in Lung Cancer – Day 23: Rachael Willeford, “Everyone deserves hope!”

Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.  This year I am participating in an effort to raise awareness through a Lung Cancer Blog Chain.  This is my second contribution.

I’d like to introduce….

RACHAEL WILLEFORD, Lung Cancer Advocate and Co-chair of Lafayette (Louisiana) Free to Breathe*

Rachael with Dr. Brendan Stiles at the Free to Breathe Lung Cancer Action Summit

[*Free to Breathe is a partnership of lung cancer survivors, advocates, researchers, healthcare professionals and industry leaders, united in the belief that every person with lung cancer deserves a cure.  ]

Rachael’s Twitter handle:  PollywogPrinces

Rachael, what is your connection to lung cancer? 
Rachael with Lafayette Free to Breathe chair Tanya Farmer

“Four members of my mom’s side of the family have died from lung cancer. Two of them were my mom’s best friends – her brother and her cousin. They both were ever present in my life. In 2012, I learned that someone had started a fundraiser called Free to Breathe in my town, and I decided to participate.  Afterwards, I volunteered on a committee and would eventually become the co-chair of the event a few months later. After I learned that my mom’s cousin, (who passed away in 2009,) and her father, (who also passed away from lung cancer in 1978,) had virtually the same survival rate, I dove headfirst into advocacy. I now focus on patient and community education and outreach, locally, with Free to Breathe.
What is your typical day like?
“Well…I’m a mom with a full time job, so my days are hectic. Until recently … read more on Luna Okada’s blog “Cancer….an unexpected journey.”

Profiles in Lung Cancer Day 22: Sandy Arlin Jauregui-Baza [Perfiles en El Cáncer de Pulmón Día 22: Sandy Arlin Jauregui-Baza]

Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015

Sandy Arlin Jauregui-Baza, Survivor and Advocate

“Life doesn’t have to end after diagnosis. It can be a wake-up call to start making YOU your biggest priority in life.”

[***Por favor, lea la traducción española de abajo***]









Who are you? — I’m a 32 year-old “kid” from Los Angeles, California with an amazing husband and two lovely fur babies: Gambit and AmaDablam.image11 I love everything about the great outdoors, from camping, hiking, jogging, kayaking…. well, you get it. :)

What is your diagnosis history? — I was diagnosed a few months short of 30, at age 29, with NSCLC. At the time of diagnosis, I’d already developed multiple lung nodules in both lungs and lesion along my spinal column; in other words, I was considered a stage IV patient.image13

After the FISH test came back, I was positive for the ALK mutation. I’d like to think that if I was just absolutely destined to get cancer, I got the right kind, because there is so much research taking place in this field, which just gives me so much hope!

How does LC impact your life? — I like to think that I’m pretty optimistic, so when asked the question about how LC has changed my life, I must say that it has been a complete eye opener. LC forced me to … read more on Lisa Goldman’s blog “Every Breath I Take.”

Profiles in Lung Cancer – Day 21: Dr. Ross Camidge “Progress will come from changing the way we think about cancer”

Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015

D. Ross Camidge, MD, PhD  “Progress will come from changing the way we think about cancer”
Director of the Thoracic Oncology Clinical and Clinical Research Programs, University of Colorado

I am incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Ross Camidge as my lung cancer oncologist, clinical trial researcher, advocacy cheerleader, and friend. He goes above and beyond to help lung cancer patients better understand their options and find hope.  And he adores his two small daughters.

Camidge and daughtersA sample of the hope Dr. Camidge offers shows in his “User’s Guide to Oncology” presentation.  He explains the basic of cancer in understandable language, talks about how to sort through information available online and elsewhere, shares do’s and dont’s of cancer care, and offers some patient inspiring stories.  I’m honored that he chose mine as one of them.

Oh, and he has an awesome British accent.

What is your connection with lung cancer?

The first lung cancer patient I remember was called John and he was a plumber in Edinburgh in Scotland. He had never smoked and was one of the first people to go on an EGFR inhibitor in a trial and had a great and long lasting response. He was the nicest of people and introduced me to all his tradesmen friends and I will be forever grateful to him for getting me on the inside track for fixing up my ‘fixer upper’ at the time. We didn’t know about EGFR mutations at that point but it was enough for me to see the potential and the need for breakthroughs in this common serious disease. Now, 15 years later, I run the lung cancer program at the University of Colorado Cancer Center where I am a physician and a clinical and translational researcher.

What does your typical day look like?

Get up before my wife and daughters, try not to wake them on my way out to work. If its a clinic day (two days a week) talk through the plan for every patient … read more on Janet Freeman-Daily’s blog “Gray Connections

Profiles in lung cancer – Day 20: Denise Cutlip “It’s not an automatic death sentence”

Denise Cutlip – One of the neatest ladies I’ve ever met.
Twitter: @dennycee

I originally “met” Denise online, who is known as Denzie on She helps other survivors by sharing her insight and support often going on several times a day, including when she can’t sleep in the middle of the night. She told me “I saw the hopelessness in my family’s eyes when I was diagnosed and I want to help alleviate that for others.” I have no doubt that she has. Anyone who has ever talked to, or met her, can see the genuine compassion and love she has for others.

I got the pleasure of meeting Denise in person at Lungevity’s Hope Summit in DC in 2014. She had vibrant purple hair and an infectious smile. She is a wonderful woman that has really touched my heart.


Her connection to lung cancer-

Denise is no stranger to lung cancer. Her father passed away when she was just 15 from mesothelioma from working in boat yards and the plastic industry. She then lost her mother to adenocarcinoma lung cancer in 2006 shortly after being diagnosed. So when Denise was diagnosed on 10-10-10 with stage IV adenocarcinoma, her first thought was “Oh crap! What can I do to live longer than 6 months?”

She was given 15 months to live and she felt like she lost all of her independence. She did some research and later connected with other survivors on Inspire. Learning and sharing with others in her position is what gave her courage and hope to carry on. Even though her family just wanted her to rest, she did not want … read more on Lisa Buonnano’s blog “Faith, Family & Friends

Profiles in Lung Cancer – Day 19: Anne Gallagher “You don’t have to yell to make a lot of impact”

Welcome to the November 19th Edition of Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015. Trying to understand what is going on in November – read November 1st blog post.

I am happy to connect you all with fellow lung cancer survivor Anne Gallagher.


Anne Gallagher spends her days as a patient navigator at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute in Eugene, Oregon. She is a valuable team member dedicated to all kinds of cancer patients, keeping a close eye on them to ensure that they receive great care in all areas of health.

Her professional career in healthcare began 11 years prior in Women’s Health. The transition to oncology came shortly after Anne’s own cancer diagnosis in 2002 at age 25; clearly a shock and turning point in her life.

Diagnosed with early stage neuroendocrine lung cancer, surgery was recommended. Specifically, removal of two lower right lobes. Surgery was successful. Remission achieved. Fast forward to 2008. Reocurrence takes place; now cancer takes up residence in the upper right lobe, the only remaining real estate up for grabs on the right side. In response, her medical oncologist prescribes an injectable anticancer agent, to be administered every 28-days. From this point forward, with only one brief interruption, Anne receives an injection … read more on Kim Wieneke’s blog “Aquarius vs Cancer

Profiles in Lung Cancer – Day 18: Gail Lemaire “I have 30% lung capacity and I’m still laughing my head off!”

Gail Lemaire: “I have 30% lung capacity and I’m still laughing my head off!”

In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a group of lung cancer bloggers have gotten together to show the many faces of lung cancer, one for each day of the month.

Today, meet Gail Lemaire, who has been beating lung cancer for 23 years. Now THAT brings hope to the rest of us!

Gail, what is your connection with lung cancer? “I am a survivor of lung cancer five separate times over the past 23 years. I have also had breast cancer twice, and thyroid cancer twice.” Gail is also an advocate for others with lung cancer.

Why do you think you’re still alive???!!! “First, I have the most unbelievable husband in the world. He is there for me every minute of every day. It seems doubtful that I could have made it through all of these difficult illnesses – cancer, surgery, treatments, and thousands of tests, etc., without his love and support. Next, I believe in the power of positive thinking. I want to LIVE my life, because … read more on Dann Wonser’s blog “Dann’s Cancer Chronicles

Profiles in Lung Cancer – Day 17: Kim Ringen “Everyone kept blowing off my concerns as typical pregnancy symptoms.”

Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015
Day 17: Kim Ringen, Lung Cancer Survivor
“Everyone kept blowing off my concerns as typical pregnancy symptoms.”
Twitter handle: @KimberlyRingen

Kim Ringen headshot

Who is Kim Ringen? Tell us a little bit about who you are, aside from cancer.

Funny I can’t get away from cancer even in my former life….I’m a veterinarian oncologist. I love being a veterinarian. I wanted to honor the human animal bond when picking a specialty – I chose oncology for 2 reasons. #1 I wanted to help further honor that bond by helping guide pet owners through what is considered one of the darkest days for their companions. #2 I find the intricate cellular backbone that drives cancer biology so intriguing from a science standpoint. This has been one of the hardest parts of my former life to let go… being a veterinarian is not just a job it becomes part of who you are..regardless if you are able to practice of not.

I love skee ball. If I walk into a restaurant or bar with a skee ball machine I am hooked.

I have 3 dogs (lab, grey-mixed breed, and pug), a cat and 7 chickens – in the city. We named the chickens after our friends. We have them kinda trained like dogs.

I was a avid runner prior to my diagnosis – I loved running. If I could run again I would feel more like my former self. My previous half-marathon pace was 8:28/mile…. I would settle for 20 min miles now if I could.

Since I no longer run I have taken up watercolor painting and writing. I am enjoying these hobbies.

How did they find out you had lung cancer?

I was early in my 2nd trimester of pregnancy and I was very short of breath – I kept telling my OBGYN that was also very tired… I used the words morbidly tired. Everyone kept blowing off my concerns as typical pregnancy symptoms. I told my running coach … read more on Tori Tomalia’s blog “A Lil Lytnin Strikes Lung Cancer