Stuart Brown describes himself as a husband and proud father. It took only five months for Stuart to go from being a healthy jogger, to a man living with a stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis. “It was a shock,” reports Stuart. Cancer was found in both lungs and some lymph nodes. Despite having a degree in engineering and liking to know how things work, Stuart avoided research about survival statistics. He said, “Everyone was giving me bad news and I didn’t want to confirm any of it.” Eventually, Stuart did receive some good news. He was found to have the ROS1 mutation which made him eligible for new FDA approved drugs that have shown good results.
Stuart has three pieces of advice for anyone diagnosed with lung cancer:
1) Get genetic testing done right away. He says, “It takes awhile to get the results and you will need them to
determine eligibility for some treatments.”;
2) Research your diagnosis to become aware of what clinical trials are available to you; and
3) Be your own best advocate. Learn what you can and discuss it with your care team.
A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation is host of the first animated lung cancer patient education resource in the world (abreathofhope.org/patient), and is hard at work to improve shared decision-making between patients and their providers. Studies show that informed or shared decision-making leads to better health outcomes for patients. The first Midwest Lung Cancer Summit (Nov. 17, 2018 in Minneapolis) is one of the vehicles A Breath of Hope uses to make sure patients and their caregivers find the tools and resources they need to participate in important decisions about their care. More at abreathofhope.org/events.
Stuart said, “Lung cancer is a disease that anyone can get. Most people I meet who have lung cancer don’t have the traditional risk factors for the disease.” He added, “Screening for colon, prostate and breast cancer is routine and life saving, but by the time symptoms are recognized for lung cancer, it’s usually stage 3 or 4. The criteria for lung cancer screenings is too narrow and unnecessarily restrictive.”
Stuart’s goal is to help get screening figured out and made readily available. Stuart points out that to raise awareness you ‘must say it over and over and over again’. He plans to continue raising awareness. “We need to use the same marketing campaign tactics that Susan G Komen used,” he added.
This Christmas will mark Stuart’s third year since his diagnosis. He shared, “I’m not out of bullets yet. We already have my next two drugs picked out.”
Stuart plans to advocate for himself and others. Education and screening; these are powerful tools when it comes to fighting lung cancer.