I was reminded that August 1 is World Lung Cancer Day. This prompted me to call my friend Jason to check in on him and congratulate him and tell him how happy I am to have him in my life. Jason is a 5++ year stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer survivor who, despite the dismal prognosis of people in his shoes, has been fortunate enough to have been in amazing hands for his treatment – and, in my opinion, is an incredibly lucky guy.
I also find myself remembering Bernard, a friend and former colleague who – ironically – was working on one of the newest late-stage, highly promising NSCLC targeted agents in development. I’d seen him on one of my recent visits to NYC and we’d chatted and joked around, only to find out in complete shock a few months later that he had passed from the disease he had dedicated his career to help fight.
Today I don’t think we should focus on all the doom and gloom that lung cancer represents; I think we’re all very well aware of the depressing stats. Instead, let’s focus on some of the tremendous progress that we’ve seen in the past two or three decades. Here are some of the major accomplishments that fill me with gratitude and hope:
When we look at today’s survival statistics – a little over a year in overall survival and short of 30% one-year survival – we can either focus on how low they still are, or we can celebrate that the numbers are double what they were in the 1990s. For those of us who have worked or are working in this field, let’s keep it up with renewed vigor and enthusiasm so that many more people can receive the care – and possibly the luck – that Jason has.