When I was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in November of 2014 I was catapulted into a terrifying chaos that I had never experienced before. I had very little faith in my doctor, who had failed to order a chest x-ray in spite of my complaints of a cough for several years. The oncologist I was referred to was matter of fact and pretty negative. Then, like a gift from heaven, a friend recommended I seek out Bonnie Addario, a lung cancer survivor, advocate, and founder of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. From the moment I first spoke with her the fear and terror began to abate.
I had tried to make appointments at UCSF, UC Davis and Stanford and was told I would have to wait a number of months. Bonnie Addario asked me to give her two days, in which time she had made appointments for me at all three institutions. I learned about trials and found that the trial at UC Davis would be right for me. It was for pembrolizumab, an immunotherapy treatment. I was randomized to standard of care treatment on chemotherapy, and began what would become a 19 month treatment, with the cancer reduced by 50%. I have just begun treatment on pembrolizumab and have high hopes that it will be successful. The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation is based and focused on hope and I truly believe that HOPE is what has allowed me to stay alive….and even thrive. I’m able to continue my life and to treasure every moment of it. And I think of Bonnie Addario as my angel.