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Lung Cancer Fighter Finds Hope – With Your Help
Kathy Kait is an active 70-year-old woman. She walks at least three miles every day, rides her bicycle often, and does yoga. She eats healthy, makes smoothies for breakfast, and she doesn’t smoke.
So when she began noticing some minor symptoms — like fatigue and shortness of breath — she didn’t think too much of them.
“I was running up the stairs carrying laundry and noticed that I had to stop and catch my breath,” she said. “I felt otherwise OK, so I thought I might have a cold or pneumonia.”
She paid a visit to her doctor, who did X-rays. But instead of pneumonia, he found numerous tumors in her lungs and lesions on her skull. She was told she had lung cancer — and that the disease had already spread.
Understandably, Kathy was shocked.
“I was feeling pretty healthy overall, and there isn’t a lot of cancer in my family,” she said. “My mom died in her 90s and my dad died in his 80s, so I was thinking I had a lot of time ahead of me and that I was going to be able to enjoy retirement and spending time with my five grandchildren.”
An initial genetic test of Kathy’s tumor came back negative, meaning that new, cutting-edge treatments weren’t an option. As she began radiation and chemotherapy, Kathy tried to keep her spirits up — but as a retired nurse practitioner, she knew that the prognosis for lung cancer was bleak.
After a few rounds of treatments, her doctor suggested they retest her tumor with a new, more sensitive genetic test that had been developed at Roswell Park. The one-of-a-kind tool, called OmniSeq Target™, looks for cancer-causing mutations that can be targeted with personalized drugs that are more effective than traditional therapies like radiation and standard chemotherapy.
Many insurance companies weren’t covering the cost of OmniSeq Target™ yet, though, because the test was relatively new. Thankfully, the money raised by individuals like you provided the necessary funding so that all patients who could benefit from the test, including Kathy, had access to it.
For Kathy — and more than 600 other patients — your participation in the Empire State Ride has made all the difference. OmniSeq Target™ revealed that Kathy’s tumor did have a mutation, and that it could be targeted with a new treatment that would likely do a better job of keeping her cancer at bay: a once-a-day pill that she could take at home.
“When I got the test results, I was absolutely ecstatic,” she said. “My perspective completely changed. I went from having little hope to having new, magnificent hope.”
She’s been on the new treatment for more than a year now, and her most recent scans showed that her tumors are shrinking.
“I’m just so grateful, and I feel great,” she said. “I might not live until I’m 93 like my mother did, but because of this treatment, I’m enjoying the time that I do have. I’m thankful for the riders and the donors who helped make this test possible. There is so much exciting research going on at Roswell Park, and that makes me hopeful.
Scientists at OmniSeq, a Roswell Park partner, have further advanced the OmniSeq Target™ test to identify even more actionable gene mutations for certain types of cancer and save more lives. Thanks to the dollars that covered the cost of the new OmniSeq Comprehensive test, scientists have been able to justify its value to insurance companies, resulting in broader coverage for Roswell Park patients.
You can help the world-class scientists at Roswell Park develop other exciting treatments for patients like Kathy. Sign up to join us on the Empire State Ride or kickstart your fundraising today.
From Running to Cycling: Meet 2017 Rider Alan Kurtz
Alan is coming all the way from his hometown in Florida to take part in the Empire State Ride. Learn why he decided to make the trip north — and what he’s most looking forward to about the seven-day adventure.
How did you find out about the Empire State Ride?
I saw a “suggested page” show up on Facebook. I’m not sure why, but I am so glad it did!
What inspired you to sign up?
I finally found a challenging ride that supports cancer research. I lost my father to cancer 33 years ago, and just lost my mother-in-law in April 2016. I am doing this to honor both of their legacies.
What is your history as a cyclist?
I completed eight marathons, including the Boston Marathon, and was training for my ninth when I blew out my hip during a training run. After having arthroscopic surgery in 2002 to correct the torn labrum and cartilage damage, I took up cycling as a form of physical therapy. I could never get back to the level of running I was accustomed to, but I got hooked on cycling.
Have you ever done anything similar to the Empire State Ride?
I am a 13-year veteran of the Bike MS: Breakaway to Key Largo, a two-day, 150-mile ride. I have not done anything to the extent of a seven-day ride of this distance and with these hills! South Florida is too flat!
How are you fundraising for the ride?
I will be sending emails and letters to prior supporters of my MS rides. I will also be supported by my own personal donations and company matching of my donations.
What do you hope to accomplish by raising funds and completing the ride?
First and foremost, I hope to raise much needed funds to help push cancer research further! Secondly, I hope to just be able to complete the ride and at the end, look upwards and say to my dad and mother-in-law, “thank you for pulling me to the finish!”
What are you most looking forward to about the ride?
From what I have read on Facebook and on the Empire State Ride website, the ride is not only about beautiful scenery and a great challenge, but it is about becoming family with my fellow riders who have the same hope and goal in mind — to help put an end to this terrible disease. I am looking forward to meeting new friends and knowing that I have helped make a difference in the lives of those suffering from cancer.