Most people dread their 30th birthday. It represents an end to the youth, adventure, and possibilities of their 20s, and thrusts them into a new chapter of adulthood, maturity, and responsibility. Yet as I [Emily] recently turned 30 years old, I felt nothing but joy and gratitude. When you’re faced with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis and your own mortality at age 28, each following birthday is simply icing on the proverbial (30th birthday) cake.
I have so much to be grateful for in reaching this milestone birthday: an oncologist and surgeon who were willing to help me fight for a cure, a team of family and friends and doctors who rallied around me, and a seductive affair with NED for more than a year now.
As I celebrate being 30, I cannot help but think of all the others battling this disease. Throughout this process, I have met countless other young lung cancer patients. Like me, they all check the boxes of someone you’d never think was at risk– young, healthy, athletic, non-smokers. And yet here we all are with a potentially terminal disease before the age of 40. Unfortunately, we are not anomalies, but rather represent an alarming trend. Oncologists and researchers are bewildered by this group of diagnoses. What is the root cause? Is it genetic? Is it due to radon? Estrogen / testosterone? Pollution? Birth Control? Pesticides?
Perhaps I am simply acting 30, but I feel a sense of responsibility toward this group. I want to find answers. Not only to reduce my own risk of lung cancer recurrence, but to prevent the next 20-something from being stripped of his or her own youth, adventure, and possibility too soon.
This is why I’m going to participate in the upcoming Genomics of Young Lung study with the ALCMI (Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute). They will be collecting tissue and blood samples from patients diagnosed under age 40 in order to study them and provide new insight into lung cancer biology. The hope is that we may find common, genome-defined subtypes of lung cancer that may be inherited, and thus develop targeted treatments for individuals carrying these subtypes.
I am passionate about this ground-breaking study which will focus on young lung cancer, and I am beyond proud to announce that I have officially joined the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation team as the Spokesperson for this Genomics of Young Lung study. I am so grateful for this opportunity from Bonnie, and will try valiantly to follow her superb example of what it is to be an ass-kicking lung cancer advocate. So please prepare yourself for more posts and videos of me sharing my story at various lung cancer conferences around the world, and helping to raise awareness for BJALCF’s incredible efforts in the lung cancer field!
Much Love. Live in the Moment.
Info on the Genomics of Young Lung Study: The Genomics of Young Lung (GYL) study is a revolutionary investigation into lung cancer. The GYL study looks to unlock two critical pieces of information: 1) how to properly treat young lung cancer patients and 2) how to determine who is genetically at risk in order to provide early screenings. Most importantly, the GYL study will move the lung cancer community another step closer to ensuring that other patients like Emily continue to reach the significant milestones in life.
To donate to the Genomics of Young Lung Study, click [HERE].
If you were diagnosed under the age of 40 and would like more information on participating in Genomics of Young Lung, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.