Gary Brausen, hockey player, runner, fitness guy and nonsmoker was shocked when he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011. Like most people in our country, he thought lung cancer only happened to smokers. The diagnosis rocked his world and brought a sense of disbelief to his wife, his two sons and all who knew him. He was not expected to make it.
Through the ensuing battle to beat cancer, Gary lost one lung, endured grueling chemotherapy and radiation that nearly killed him, and experienced the painful emotional roller coaster that cancer patients encounter as they fight for their lives. The ride was horrific, but through it, Gary learned much about himself. His faith blossomed into a strong, driving force that today brings him and his family to A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation with a strong commitment to challenge the misconceptions around lung cancer and raise the awareness needed to bring this disease into public view. Like the more than 200,000 Americans who are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, Gary knows personally the injustice of contracting a disease to which many in our society have turned a blind eye.
Today, Gary is a lung cancer survivor. In August 2012, his oncologist, Dr. Leach, encouraged him to run in the Twin Cities Annual Lung Run/Walk founded by A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation. He was the only survivor to run the race with one lung and finished with ten minute miles. He has since run nine minute miles. He is determined to regain his strength and has promised himself and others who are coping with lung cancer that he will fight hard and long to remove the stigma that keeps lung cancer misunderstood and lung cancer research underfunded. With less than a 20% survival rate, Gary plans to devote his life to saving other lung cancer patients’ lives.
Like so many others coping with this deadly disease, Gary has learned that lung cancer can happen to anyone and everyone deserves a chance to beat it.
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