How did you come to be involved with this fund-raiser for the National Lung Care Partnership?
I am an oncology nurse in Knoxville, and part of another foundation in Knoxville, Breath of Life. It was started four years ago in memory of lung-cancer patient Charlie Mynatt, and I had the privilege of taking care of him. Breath of Life provides hope and encouragement for lung-cancer patients and their families during their treatment.
Is research prolonging the life of lung-cancer patients?
We've extended it by months, not years. Though we're farther ahead than we were, we face the problem of a lack of funding for research for lung cancer.
If you had just one thing to say to people about lung cancer, what would it be?
It's not just a smoker's disease or a disease of older men. Fifteen percent of patients were never smokers, and twice as many women will die of lung cancer as of breast cancer.
Does early detection help?
It's hard to detect it early, there's no early tool, like a mammogram, that's one of the problems. Most often when you find it, it's in advanced stages.
Why was Charlie Mynatt special?
He survived 27 months of lung cancer; he was a fighter. And he was very involved while he was alive, participating in events like Buddy's Race Against Cancer. When he died, his wife didn't want to let his efforts stop. She started Breath of Life to help on a local level. Eventually, we hope it's a huge, national thing.
What are the meetings like?
We have a topic to discuss—diet, fatigue, how you feel with side effects, or depression. But I have to say, this is not a depressed group; they're very electric. I always leave the meetings feeling better than when I went there.
For more information about the Oct. 16 race in Village Green Subdivision on Jamestowne Boulevard, go to freetobreathe.org. (Online registration closes Oct. 11.)
For more about Breath of Life: breathoflifesupport.org