Archive for March, 2013

Kathi Roberts– Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Let’s start this week off on an upbeat note! And you can’t get more upbeat than our wonderful lung cancer survivor and Free to Breathe Charlotte committee member, Kathi Roberts.

Let me begin by saying I have had a very wonderful life. By 2006 my husband and I had raised our four children and they had successfully begun their adult lives. I had a job I simply loved – helping new teachers begin their careers in the classroom. I’m still married to a wonderful man that was and still is my best friend. We had just moved into a house for grown-ups- you know, master down, upstairs for company, all the bells and whistle that you would want. I am also a rule-follower in some things, especially when it comes to my health. Always ate healthy. Exercised to some degree. Went to every checkup and did every test one does as we age- and that list does get longer doesn’t it?

May 2006 changed my life drastically and forever: a bolt-from-the-blue diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer, with bone and liver involvement, discovered when I fractured my spine. Me, a nonsmoker! If you are not familiar with cancer staging, stage IV is the absolute end of the line- cancer has spread from the original tumor- the doctor in fact used the term “peppered” when we asked how much bone involvement there was.
We all know that we are going to die someday, but I suddenly had a very definitive, in-your- face timeline that was absolutely terrifying.

So we stepped into the storm of tests and decisions and treatment; it was overwhelming. The first thing they tried to decide was whether to biopsy the lung first or the liver – both risky procedures, but necessary to decide the course of treatment. After a lot of discussion they decided to do an ultrasound instead and look at the liver. Remarkably, the good news came; the liver did not have tumors but cysts!

The newest treatment protocol at that time was a triple threat chemo: Avastin, Carboplatin and Taxol. Whew! Three weeks on, one week off for 3 months. Also Zometa every month for the bone mets. After that I started Tarceva and have since switched to Xegeva for my bones. I added an exercise program through Strides for Strength, designed for cancer patients, and holistic treatmenst and acupuncture as well.

So fast-forward six years. God has given me six more years, and I am thankful for every day. Is my life perfect now? Yes and no – I am not in remission; I have some minor and some major issues to deal with. I am still apprehensive with every scan or test, hoping for the word stable, knowing that someday that will change.

But my life is perfect in another way. I have discovered a small community of survivors who are all passionate about changing the perceptions of lung cancer. We are appalled at how little is known about it and we work fervently to talk about “the elephant in the room.” The Free to Breathe team has been such a welcome organization to come into our lives; we are all thankful for that. We are planning our second run in Charlotte and are eager to do even more in the coming years as we raise interest and awareness in both detection and treatment for lung cancer.

- Kathi Roberts
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James J. Urbanic, MD, Wake Forest Baptist Health Comprehensive Cancer Center

Friday, March 29th, 2013







James J. Urbanic, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology
Comprehensive Cancer Center
Clinical Specialties
Lung Cancer, Radiation Oncology, Radiosurgery, Brachytherapy, Breast Cancer

Education & Training

M.D., Medical Univ Of South Carolina , 2003
B.S., US Merchant Marine Academy , 1992
Internship, Internal Medicine, Med U SC Teaching Hospital, 2004
Residency, Radiation Oncology, North Carolina Baptist Hospital, 2007
Residency, Radiation Oncology, North Carolina Baptist Hospital, 2008



American Association of Cancer Research
Radiation Research Society
American Medical Association
Radiological Society of North America
American Society of Clinical Oncology
American Society of Therapeutic Rad & Oncology


James J. Urbanic, MD, Wake Forest Baptist Health Comprehensive Cancer Center from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

Francesco J. DeMayo, Ph. D, Baylor College of Medicine, Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center in Houston, TX

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Francesco J. DeMayo, Ph.D., 
Professor, Baylor College of Medicine
Ph, D. Michigan State University, East Lansing 
Postdoc, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

Molecular regulation of cellular differentiation and physiology

The goal of my laboratory is to investigate the molecular regulation of cellular differentiation and physiology. This research is conducted on two model organ systems, the lung and uterus. Although these two tissues are significantly divergent in their biological functions, many of the molecular mechanisms regulating the cellular differentiation and physiology are conserved. In order to investigate the biology of these tissues, my laboratory has manipulated the mouse genome to generate novel animal models to identify molecular mechanisms regulating the cell biology of these organs.

The lung is composed of 40 different cell types. This makes the lung an interesting organ to investigate the developmental control of cellular differentiation. The pulmonary cell types my laboratory is interested in investigating are the Clara cells, the neuroendocrine cells and the alveolar type II cells. Clara cells are the non-ciliated secretory cells of the pulmonary epithelium. My laboratory has used transgenic technology to execute in vivo promoter analysis to investigate the molecular regulation of Clara cell gene expression. The information gained from these studies has allowed us to generate an animal model for lung cancer, to generate cell lines to further investigate the elements regulating Clara cell differentiation and finally to determine how elements involved in lung development play a role in the regulation of the response of the Clara cell to environmental challenges. In the investigation of the factors that control neuroendocrine cell differentiation, my laboratory is interested in identifying what factors regulate this process as well as determining the role of these cells in damage and repair of the pulmonary epithelium. We have shown that the transcription factor, achaete scute, can cause a transformed Clara cell to express markers of neuroendocrine differentiation in vivo. Finally, in the investigation of the biology of the alveolar type II cell my laboratory has developed an transgenic “Gene Switch” system to investigate how growth factors which are involved in regulating lung development can function to regulate the biology of the alveolar type II cell in the adult.

The uterus functions to support the development of the fetus. The ability of the embryo to attach and thrive in the uterus is under tight hormonal control. Ablation of the receptor for the steroid hormone progesterone has demonstrated that this hormone is critical for the uterus to initiate and support the implanting embryo. My laboratory is interested in understanding the cascade of events regulated by progesterone. This is being accomplished by using current techniques in gene expression analysis to determine which genes are regulated by progesterone. Finally my laboratory is generating novel approaches to investigate the role of specific genes in uterine biology in vivo.

The overall goal of the above investigations in the understanding of the molecular regulation of cellular differentiation and physiology is to shed light on pathways to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. Understanding the molecular regulation of pulmonary cell differentiation will help design treatments for pulmonary diseases such as lung cancer, and asthma. The investigation of uterine biology will aid in the treatment of infertility.

Francesco J. DeMayo, Ph. D, Baylor College of Medicine, Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center in Houston, TX from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

Linda Wortman — A Survivor at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, MN

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Linda and Jerry Wortman are Tackling Lung Cancer from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

Micheal Barkins is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

In August of 2012 I went to the doctor for a routine checkup. While the doctor was listening to my heart and lungs he told me to take in a deep breath which I did and I cough, he asked me how long have I been coughing, I said I do not have a cough, he ask me when was the last time I had a chest x-ray I said a few years ago, He said let’s do a chest x-ray. So we did and when the x-ray came back the whole left lobe of my lung was shades white, he asked me if I ever had pneumonia I said yes when I was a baby he then said it looks like you have pneumonia or a lung infection he prescribed me some antibiotics and referred me to a lung specialist.

I had to wait 4 days to see the pulmonary doctor. When I did see the doctor I asked him if it was cancer he told me it did not look like a typical cancer x-ray but he wanted to run some test so I was to come back on that Wednesday to get some lymph nodes biopsy. Well I didn’t make it till Wednesday… That Monday morning my wife rushed me to the ER. I had shortness of breath I could hardly breathe. I was admitted in the hospital I was told that I had fluid around my heart and that is why I was having problems breathing, they had to perform a procedure to drain the fluid that had accumulated in the pericardia sac of my heart. So that was done I was in the hospital for a week and a half having all kinds of test done and every test was coming back negative for cancer, even though I had symptoms that appeared to lead to cancer, finally my doctor said let’s do a lung biopsy.

Three days later the doctor came into my room and set down beside me and told me and my wife that I have stage 4 Lung Cancer and my prognosis was 6 months and I could try Chemotherapy to try to prolong my life that since I was in good shape that I might response well to the Chemo.

I was numb and my family was devastated. He told me he will recommend me to an Oncologist. I asked if I could go home he said yes, The Oncologist came in and reconfirmed with me what the doctor had told me. We discussed the time for the chemotherapy treatments to start.

I went home and a week later I was back in the hospital with the fluid around my heart again. This time I had heart surgery the surgeon cut a window in the pericardium sac off my heart so the fluid could flow out I was told after this it would not return. I had a PET scan done and the results were really bad. The cancer had metastasized to my bones, pericardium sac of my heart, my skull, the thyroid gland, and the lymphatic system. The prognosis changed from 6 months to 3-5 months without chemotherapy and maybe longer with chemotherapy.

So we decided to do chemotherapy. I was scheduled for 6 rounds of chemotherapy 5 hours a day once every 3 weeks. After the third round of chemotherapy I had to get a PET scan done to see if the treatment was working or if the cancer had progressed.

Praise be to GOD the most high, we had to wait 3 weeks to get the results of the scan. On the day when we went to get the results the doctor came in to the room and said “Michael, Michael, Michael I—we have never seen anything like this. You had stage 4 lung cancer, but we can’t find cancer anywhere in your body, we checked the scan twice to make sure we were reading it right!”

Hallelujah, praise God. We know that prayer and faith in GOD and the strength of my family is what healed me. On January 11, 2013 a week after my last round of chemotherapy I had another scan and I am by the grace of GOD still cancer free. We thank GOD everyday for performing a miraculous healing and showing favor to our family and we stand on faith that when GOD put his hands on it, it is resolved.