I am a 7-year survivor of Stage IIIB Lung Cancer, and I am all too awarethat I belong to a very small group of fortunate people.When I was diagnosed I was blessed to be the recipient of state of the art lung cancer care. Most patients aren’t as fortunate. My goal in life is to make survival the norm, not the exception. Seven years ago I was appalled by the dismal Lung Cancer statistics, an overall 5 year survival rate of just15.5% and killing more people than breast, colon, prostate,kidney and melanoma cancerscombined. I learned that much needed to be done to improve the survivability of lung cancer, and it had to be done quickly. Although I had “beaten” this disease, I could not sit idly by and watch this epidemic continue without a voice, without a champion, and so in 2006was born the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation—patient-founded-funded-focused.Our work began.
It didn’t take long––just about a year and a half––for us to realize we needed to do even more. With partnership and collaboration in mind, in 2007 we invited the world’s foremost thought leaders in Lung Cancer to a Summit in San Francisco. Nearly 80 people attended––physicians, scientists, financial advisors, and experts from MIT, Harvard and Stanford as well as private sector business executives––all to hear us ask one simple question...
“If money were no object, what is the one thing you would do to change the survivability of Lung Cancer?”
To set the scene, we asked Michael Milken (financier, philanthropist, cancer survivor, founder of FasterCures)to open the Summit as our keynote speaker. Inspired by two days of discussion, debate and information-sharing,it was decided that significantly improving survivability would require a third-party, trusted entity to build a virtual lung cancer institute with a centralized biorepository––so with that answer we set out to create an international contractual collaboration with the brightest and the best for the purpose of sharing THEIR results with everyone to accelerate lung cancer research.
The Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute was born one week later and now this virtual institute is a functional, operating research consortiumcollecting tissues and specimens—directly facilitating molecular analyses and helping advanced-stage patients today as well as enabling the development of new and more effective treatments for patients in the near future.
As a cancer survivor there is one thing I am certain of—we will not achieve our collective goals alone. We need doctors, researchers, patients, industry and our fellow non-profit groups all working together. We need focused goals and objectives and we MUST hold each other accountable. With that WE are the change. I hope you will join with us and make today the beginning of the end of lung cancer.
Bonnie J. Addario
Founder and Chair, Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation
Founder and Scientific Leadership Board member, Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute