Hi, I’m Susan, and six years ago I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes and adrenal gland, and had gone undetected for five to seven years. I never smoked, and I felt fine (except for an allergy-like cough). So, hearing that I had an inoperable and incurable disease - with a 50% chance of living a year and 1.6% of surviving five years - brought about a plethora of emotions hard to describe.
Despite the hopeless medical statistics, I was determined to do everything within my control to fight my disease. I did extensive research in both western medicine and holistic practices, and took every step to embrace wellness and get the best medical care possible. I received treatment at Northwestern (which included two years on a daily targeted cancer treatment drug, one clinical trial, and ultimately three surgeries). I grew my faith exponentially. I practiced numerous alternative methods. And, I completely changed my diet - eliminating sugar, meats and dairy - and moved to a primarily plant-based diet. I believe all of these things worked together to help me beat the number one cancer killer... I’ve been off all treatment for a little over four years!
I have made it my passion to bring as much awareness to lung cancer and raise as much money for research as I can (fyi, my chemo drug started out as an experimental treatment for my type of cancer and helped prolong my life - all thanks to research). I want to help prevent this horrible disease, which took my father’s life in 1999 and several friends’ lives since then, from affecting others. I am a spokesperson for the American Lung Association, who has given me a platform from which to advocate and fundraise. Together with my friends, family and colleagues, we have raised over $250,000 and funded four lung cancer research studies to help find the causes, prevention, early detection and more personalized treatments for lung cancer.
Like most of the population, I thought lung cancer was a smokers' disease, but ANYONE CAN GET LUNG CANCER. There are over 380,000 people living with it today (60% of them have never smoked or are former smokers that had quit). I climb 2,340 stairs (that's 180 stories!) to bring awareness to and raise money for lung cancer research. Please support all those who have been touched by the disease.
Thank you for your generous support and for giving all of us hope for a cure.
I climb because no one should struggle to breathe. I have asthma and I know how scary it is when it is hard to breathe. Climbing 71 flights is very hard for someone with asthma, but I have done this for three years and it is so rewarding.
I starting climbing five years ago when Geri Bresnihan, who I met in Jazzercise convinced me that I am stronger than I thought I was. She met me and we practiced stair climbing and I did 30 flights the first time and thought I could do this! It pushed me outside my comfort zone to ask for donations, but now I enjoy fundraising.
If you are thinking of climbing - you can do it! The office I work at is four stories and we practice doing interval training on the stairs twice a week. We go up four flights, down two, up two flights, down four and up four flights. That is ten flights. We start at ten flights around the first of the year and work up to 71 flights. You can do it!
The American Lung Association is the leading organization dedicated to saving lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The Lung Association provides support and education for those living with asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and fighting external threats to lung health such as tobacco, air pollution, and more. And we all need to breathe!
I climb every year in memory of my wife, Linda. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis took her only a week after my first climb, in 2016.
I selected this picture, taken at one of our favorite places, Saratoga Race Track, in 2014. Linda loved the excitement, beauty and class of high-end racing. Dressing for the occasion was half the reason to be there. Some people can carry off anything in a hat, and Linda was one of them. And she loved her hats!
Linda accepted her diagnosis, and the complicating non-small cell lung cancer, with her characteristic grace and strength. She knew she would not live out the life she wanted because there was nothing that could stop what was to come. She wanted very much to change that for others who would come after her, so now that is up to us who survive her.