All Are Welcome: A Real-Life Lung Cancer 'Living Room'

November 18, 2020
Katie Kosko

CURE, CURE® Lung Cancer 2020 Special Issue,

Advocacy Groups | <b>GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer</b>

Bonnie Addario, a 16-year lung cancer survivor, shares a message of hope and invites you to ‘The Living Room.’

Hope, knowledge and direction. Bonnie Addario’s goal is to make sure every newly diagnosed patient with lung cancer has all three to empower themselves and their caregivers.

In 2004, Addario received a stage 3b lung cancer diagnosis. As a wife, mother and grandmother, she didn’t want to give up — despite being given a 16% chance to live. For months, she received a chemotherapy regimen weekly and radiation daily to shrink her tumor.

Then she underwent a 14-hour surgery performed by three surgeons — thoracic, heart and vascular — each taking his turn along the way, followed by more radiation. Addario was then declared cancer free. Two years later, she was invited to speak with others like herself at a support group — and what she saw was life changing.

“Picture a large room with gray walls, gray carpeting, gray drapes and gray folding chairs positioned around a gray, oblong table — everything looked gray beneath the dull lighting. Even the people sitting there before me appeared gray. Nobody was living in that room,” wrote Addario in her upcoming book, “The Living Room: A Lung Cancer Community of Courage.”

“Instead of offering the support they’d come for, this place only reinforced the fact that they were dying. A support-group setting should be a place where patients come to live, not die.”

The book has been a life project for Addario, who is all about taking a personal approach to cancer care. Throughout the pages of her book, readers get to know 21 people who have survived advanced lung cancer, including a husband and wife both diagnosed with lung cancer, a man who rode 3,400 miles on his bike in honor of his mother who died from the disease in 2017 and a young woman who fought for her life after having no risk factors or family history of lung cancer. Their stories tell how they managed to find the courage, resources, spirit and faith to keep momentum while fighting a devastating disease.

Addario also shares in the book very personal details of her life and diagnosis, along with words of wisdom from some of the world’s leading lung cancer experts on various topics such as screening.

After that support group, Addario also realized that she wanted to create a cheerful place for thrivers to come together. And she did just that, developing a real-life Lung Cancer Living Room that offers education and support and has helped countless patients with lung cancer find hope.

“They are my new heroes, the very definition of what it means to be brave,” wrote Addario, a fierce advocate for lung cancer survivors through the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer. “They don’t give in and they don’t give up, men and women who come to the Living Room hopeless and leave hopeful. So come right in. Join us and make yourself comfortable. Our session is about to begin.”

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