In 2011, my husband was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at age 39. I was pregnant with our second child. He proceeded to undergo the approved standard treatment for that time. Unfortunately, he progressed fairly rapidly through multiple lines of treatment, and after two years his treatment options were running out. At that same time, access to a new medication had become available if his tumor tissue tested positive to a particular test. In 2013, my husband tested positive for the ALK mutation.
Having this specific tumor information provided my husband with access to a new drug (ALK inhibitor) called crizotinib, followed by access to a second generation ALK inhibitor clinical trial. These consecutive treatments have provided him with additional longevity of three and a half years (and counting).
When my husband was diagnosed his prognosis was extremely poor. He had extensive stage IV disease. He never thought he would see our unborn child crawl, walk or hear her say “Daddy.” This year our daughter turned five and started pre-school.
Everyday day, every week, every month and every year is worth fighting for. We thank wholeheartedly all those working in the field of lung cancer who are making dreams come true not only for patients but also for their loved ones who are very much part of this journey.
For our children in particular the longevity he has achieved through access to new medications and clinical trials is utterly priceless. They are now old enough to remember their father, which is truly a gift.
My husband is living proof that research, access to tumor tissue testing and access to new and innovative therapies can save lives.
We hope that everyone affected by lung cancer has the opportunity for increased longevity and in the future even a cure. We also hope that research, funding and future generations are not impeded by the negative stigma of this disease.