MINEOLA, NY (CBSNewYork) – Have an inspirational gathering on Monday on Long Island. Survivors of lung cancer happy life.
Once thought to be incurable, advances in treatment are providing years of quality life, and in some cases, patients are now cancer-free, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports.
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Bells took the toll to celebrate life, including that of Christina Lamarca, 55, who remembered her cardiac arrest prognosis with stage 4 lung cancer.
“They basically gave me three months to live,” Lamarca said.
That was five years ago. She then enrolled in a clinical trial of Immunotherapy at NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center and lived to see her grandchildren.
“Life is worth living. I will keep going. I’m not going anywhere,” Lamarca said.
Janeen Johnson-Gallo, a mother of five, also received a hopeless diagnosis.
“In my mind, gosh, that was a sentence for me,” Johnson-Gallo said.
She has also been treated with breakthrough therapies. Ten trial participants gathered at Mineola as living proof that people with terminal lung cancer, the deadliest of all cancers, can survive.
Dr Jeffrey Schneider of Perlmutter Cancer Center said: “We have many such patients here today who have been given death sentences.
Immunotherapy is a type of antibody.
“Treatments allow the body’s own immune system to recognize the cancer and eliminate it. So we’re really just facilitating our own defense instead of pushing the poison to kill the cancer,” says Schneider.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer in the US, with a quarter of a million Americans diagnosed each year. Immunotherapy is increasing survival time by more than five years.
Frank Crescenzi, one of the first to join the trial, lasted 11 years, a gift of time watching his grandchildren grow up.
“It’s a big thing, that’s a big thing,” Crescenzi said.
“It was a miracle,” his wife, Nancy, added.
Immunotherapy doesn’t work for everyone, but doctors say it’s like a cure-all in 20% of cases. The remaining 80% can try second-generation treatments.
“Here I am, ringing the bell, very hopeful for the future,” Johnson-Gallo said.
They celebrated life and the healthcare workers made it happen.
Immunotherapy is now an approved treatment for lung cancer, and patients no longer have to enroll in a clinical trial to receive the treatment.