In November of 2014, Katherine Bensen, a 40-year-old nonsmoker, got on a treadmill and had trouble breathing. She tried lifting weights and couldn’t. Although Katherine had been seen by various doctors for a few years because of swollen lymph nodes, the doctors told her nothing was wrong. Katherine felt tired but thought it was due to her busy lifestyle as a wife and working mother of four.
A few days before Christmas, Katherine’s coworker encouraged her to visit the doctor for her persistent cough. Katherine’s doctor ordered an x-ray which came back abnormal, so he felt it best to follow up with a CT scan the next morning. He then referred her to a pulmonologist for a second opinion. Although her pulmonologist was 99% sure it was sarcoidosis and reassured her they “weren’t even going to consider the other possibility,” he scheduled a lymph node biopsy.
On New Year’s Eve 2014, Katherine’s youngest daughter’s 9th birthday, Katherine received a phone call from her pulmonologist saying she had Stage IV Adenocarcinoma Lung Cancer. The shocking news brought Katherine to tears. After meeting with her oncologist she was given the choice to start chemotherapy or wait to see if she was a match for targeted therapy. She decided to wait. Four weeks later, Katherine’s biopsy results confirmed she was a match for targeted therapy.
While lung cancer is America’s #1 cancer killer and claims both smokers and nonsmokers, Katherine and her family personally experienced the lack of awareness about this disease. They also learned quickly that lung cancer research is less funded than other cancer fields. Katherine’s family fought back and took action.
Katherine’s father, Congressman Rick Nolan, started a lung cancer caucus in Washington D.C. Katherine’s mother-in-law heard A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation radio ads and encouraged Katherine to participate in the 9th Annual A Breath of Hope Lung Run/Walk Twin Cities in August of 2015 to raise money for research. Katherine successfully finished the 5K walk, met others who understood her journey and has now become an active volunteer at A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation. She was one of the voices of the 10th Anniversary A Breath of Hope Lung Run/Walk Twin Cities radio ads that aired throughout the summer of 2016.
Living with lung cancer has become Katherine’s new normal. Along with a daily pill, she gets a CT scan every 10-12 weeks. Join Katherine’s family at the annual A Breath of Hope Lung Run/Walk Twin Cities each August at Lake Harriet. Your support has the power to change outcomes, bring hope and save lives.