Joan's lung cancer was discovered by accident. Joan's 45 month survival was due to clinical trials and precision medicine using genomic targeted therapies. More research will give us better early detection and better treatments to #beatlungcancer.
Joan Fong, my lovely wife of 32 years, was diagnosed with Stage IV Non Small Cell Lung Cancer at age 56. The discovery was by accident. She was in good health and the docs thought her bone pain in the hip was arthritis and sent Joan to Physical Therapy. That didn't work too good and I pushed for more scans which resulted in this shock. It was a shock since she never smoked.
If you have lungs, then you can get lung cancer.
Does not matter if you are smoker/non-smoker, Democrat/Republican, fat/thin, athletic/coach potato, rich/poor, PhD/GED, if you have lungs, then you can get lung cancer.
The prognosis was grim. 50% die within one year of diagnosis. In fact, the median overall survival for Stage IV (advanced metastatic cancer) was 8 months.
Fortunately, our Kaiser Oncologist Dr. Gail Wagner had heard that Asian female never smokers may have a targeted therapy that can directly attack only the bad cancer cells. The test came back that Joan was an EGFR mutant (exon 19del variant). This allowed Joan to push back against the cancer (80% in 3 months) by taking one pill per day!
Subsequently, the cancer got smart and mutated again. Over the next 45 months, Joan went through 15 different lines of therapy including three phase one clinical trials. In one trial, she was patient #2 in the whole world to take this medication. Despite the challenges and side effects, Joan had a relatively good quality of life as a lung cancer warrior.
At age 59, 100 days shy of her 60th birthday, Joan passed onto glory. She lived the life compressed with the joy that comes from knowing God. Our blog journeying this inspiring time received over 37,000 visits and can be found at bit.ly/blog4Joan
I am staying in this journey to #beatlungcancer so others will not need to face an empty bed prematurely.
There are now much greater survival rates than before. The 5-year survival for lung cancer stage IV is now at 5% which is much higher than when Joan was first diagnosed. We now have comprehensive genomic testing to find the 100s of mutation drivers that we can target instead of two tests. We now have more drugs approved to battle lung cancer in the past five years than in the previous 50 years! We still don't have a comprehensive easy and affordable early detection, but there is much in development. BUT there is much HOPE.
The idea of calling ourselves DRAGON WARRIORS fighting lung cancer is my idea of a bi-cultural pun. DRAGON is a fierce bad-ass animal to most. WARRIOR is a fighter. The word Dragon in Chinese (虬) is pronounced LUNG. Hence we are LUNG WARRIORS with HOPE.
Support and Honor Joan's memory by supporting the GO2 Foundation For Lung Cancer by making a contribution to my fundraiser and sharing this page with your family and friends.
Every dollar I raise will advance GO2 Foundation For Lung Cancer's mission to help change the reality of living with lung cancer by ending stigma, increasing research funding and ensuring access to care.
Together, we are stronger!
Blessings and Make it A Great Day! Its a choice how we respond to life.
Please help us support GO2 Foundation For Lung Cancer by making a contribution to our team and sharing this page with your family and friends. Every dollar we raise will advance GO2 Foundation For Lung Cancer's mission to help change the reality of living with lung cancer by ending stigma, increasing research funding and ensuring access to care.
Together, we are stronger!
Blessings and Live the Life Compressed with Joy from God!
/s/ Ronnie Fong