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Free to Breathe

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1 Point Place, Ste 200
Madison,  WI 53719
Phone: 608-833-7905


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Real Life Story

I was 51, with no history of smoking, and was a very healthy runner, triathlete and cyclist. Or at least I thought I was healthy. Over the next few weeks, I learned that I had Stage 3B lung cancer caused by a genetic mutation called ALK+. In my case, Stage 3B meant that the cancer involved lymph nodes. Stage 3B lung cancer is not curable and my treatment options were limited. I began taking the relatively new targeted therapy drug developed specifically to combat the ALK+ mutation. It worked for the first 4.5 months of my treatment. My tumors were shrinking, but I experienced some adverse side effects that prevented me from taking the medication much longer. That year, ceritinib (Zykadia) was approved by the FDA. I switched to that. I have been on the drug for almost two years now. My tumors have shrunk, my lymph nodes are currently clear, and I am able to race and train at a pretty high level. I don't have the speed I had prior to my cancer, but the fact that I am not only alive but truly "LIVING" is remarkable. And the main reason for that is the recent development of these new targeted drugs. Its important to emphasize that this is NOT "my story" - I'm just the vehicle for the story. The medication I am taking (Zykadia) is the story. The fact that genetic mutations were discovered is the story. The fact that researchers discovered and developed medications for these genetic mutations is the story. The fact that that Free to Breathe funds that research is the story. The fact that my cancer has not only been kept at bay, but the treatment also allows me to live a very active life, racing, competing, working— LIVING—despite the disease.

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