Archive for September, 2012

Susan Warmerdam is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Seven months ago, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. As a non-smoker, this came as a complete shock, surreal—impossibility. Many women in my family had battled breast cancer, including my mother, and it was always breast cancer that I feared was around the corner. In my mind, along with most of the population, lung cancer was a smokers’ disease. I had watched my father, who smoked for over 40 years; lose his fight to lung cancer 13 years before my diagnosis. As it turns out, my cancer, which had spread to my adrenal gland, abdomen and chest and lymph nodes before it was discovered, was caused by a gene mutation (EGFR), something completely beyond my control. It had been growing, silently, for five to seven years before a common cough and a chest x-ray exposed a mass in my lung.

At 47, the news that I had inoperable and, according to the medical community, incurable cancer was devastating. As soon as my initial shock and depression could be forced aside, I decide that I would beat this disease. I would be the miracle patient, and I vowed to do everything within my power to fight for my life. I did extensive research in both western and holistic medicine. I selected an oncologist and began treatment at Northwestern with a daily oral chemo drug. At the same time, I volunteered to be part of a test group for a new experimental drug. At home, I purged my life of all carcinogenic chemicals, unnecessary dyes, fragrances and additives. I took steps to limit my exposure to unnecessary radiation. I overhauled my diet, completely eliminating sugar, meats and dairy, and moved to a primarily plant-based diet with an occasional fish. My oncologist thought all of these steps, especially my new diet, were unnecessary and possibly harmful, but when I returned for my first follow up CT Scan 6 weeks later, my tumors had shrunk by 30%–70%. The best (“stellar” was the word used) results my doctor had ever seen.

Jackie Archer is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Tuesday, August 2, 2005, at the age of 40 years and in seemingly excellent health, an evening commuter came crashing into my SUV. I quickly phoned 911. Within moments there were lights and sirens coming from every direction. The paramedics gently placed me onto a straight board and took me to the local hospital where I underwent a variety of tests to verify the extent of my injuries. By the time the tests were completed the ER room I had been assigned to was filled with my family and our family doctor, Dr. Ayisha Gani. After a few hours of x-rays and tests the ER doctor told me he had “…good news and bad news”. He went on to say with surprise, “The good news is that there are no injuries, no fractures, nothing whatsoever as a result of the car accident.” Everyone was relieved, for a moment. “The bad news is there is something in your lower right lobe the size of my fist; we need to do some tests…” Dr. Gani, my personal physician explained to me that she was admitting me for additional tests which would more than likely involve a biopsy the following day.

The next day I had a biopsy performed and remained in the hospital while other family members made their way to Georgia. It was Thursday afternoon that Dr. Gani came to my hospital room with all of my family in the room and told me the news and said, “The biopsy results are in; there is a tumor growing in the lower right lobe; it has to come out right away, you have lung cancer.” I was shocked to hear this and asked if this was accurate. I asked her how this could have happened. Me? I never smoked

and neither did my parents. How could I get lung cancer? I was then told it was the fastest growing type of cancer cell, Adenocarcenoma. I had lung cancer. I never smoked and neither did my parents.

Later that evening my three sons were brought to my hospital room. They were 12, 14 & 16 years old at the time. I proceeded to remind them of the phrase they had heard throughout their life, “God works in mysterious ways”. As I reminded them of this phrase I repeated for them the sequence

of events that had played out over the past two days. I wanted to protect them from any unknown fears that the word “cancer” is typically associated with. They understood that surgery would be required and that the accident was one of “God’s mysterious ways” of letting me know there was something wrong inside me.

Two weeks later, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Dr. John E. Moore performed the 14-hour surgery that would save my life. Dr. Moore removed the orange sized tumor from the middle and lower lobe of my right lung and 31 of my lymph nodes. At the time I was staged as “1b” but several years later a second pathology report indicated that I was actually at Stage III due to activity in a lymph node.

After 8 weeks of recovering from major surgery Dr. Moore installed a mediport which was the method of receiving 12 weekly treatments of chemotherapy (taxol & carboplatin) under the care of Dr. Thomas Seay of Atlanta Cancer Care. As of 12.30.05, my last chemo treatment, I have had no other cancer related issues. I continue to be closely monitored and screened.

I am a miracle. If it had not been for the auto accident I would not have known about the tumor in my lung. The cancer would more than likely have spread which would have been “too late” for treatment and I would have died in the spring of 2006. I am so blessed!

Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

In January of this year (2012), my wife was diagnosed with Stage 1B lung cancer.  She had the tumor removed 13 days after initial diagnosis.  Her 6 month follow up CT did not show any additional spreading of the disease.  She was very fortunate that it was caught early.  We are very grateful and pray that the follow up CT scans are all good.

This experience has been very unusual in that the company I work for develops software to assist with the early detection of lung cancer. Talking about how important early detection has become very personal to me.

I have read Keasha’s story several times over the last 6 months and my heart really goes out to her husband and family.  It is just heartbreaking to hear about others affected by this insidious disease. There is so much more society could be doing in the way of research and awareness.

I would like to join Team Draft.  As my wife continues to rebound from her experience, I continue to ask what I could be doing to help others.  If there are ways I can become more involved with lending a hand, I would like to do so.

On a positive note, my wife is competing in her first Sprint Trial since her diagnosis.  I am very proud of her.


Dan Clark