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Facing Lung Cancer Together

November was National Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and Fox Chase Cancer Center started off the month with Together Facing Lung Cancer, an event that united lung cancer survivors, caregivers, and health care professionals for an evening of education, discussion, and hope.A side view photograph of a Fox Chase doctor speaking to a crowd at a podium, with people at tables on either side of him.

Hossein Borghaei, DO, chief of thoracic medical oncology at Fox Chase, hosted the evening’s program, which included a question and answer session with a panel of experts and a vendor fair featuring Fox Chase patient care services and offerings from a variety of companies.

The panel speakers included surgical oncologist Stacey Su, MD, director of the thoracic oncology fellowship training program; pulmonologist Rohit Kumar, MD; medical oncologist Jessica Bauman, MD; and radiation oncologist Mark Hallman, MD, PhD.

Patients and caregivers asked a wide variety of questions, ranging from how to increase awareness and availability of lung cancer screenings to what new treatments are on the horizon to how to shed the stigma that lung cancer is primarily a smoker’s disease.

A photograph of a group of medical professionals, including Fox Chase doctors, wrapping their arms around each other and smiling at the camera at an indoor event.

 Fox Chase patient Joan Lautenbacher stole the spotlight when she shared her story. Diagnosed with lung cancer seven years ago at the age of 55, Lautenbacher searched all over southern New Jersey looking for a doctor. A friend’s husband, who had been successfully treated at Fox Chase, brought her to the Center and things finally clicked into place.

“Fox Chase became everything to me,” she told the crowd. “I never questioned the decisions my lung cancer team made for me. They gave me strength and they gave me hope.”

Since her diagnosis, Lautenbacher has gotten married and retired. In her retirement, she has become a volunteer at Fox Chase and embarked on RVing trips with her husband, serving as a volunteer for the State and National Parks Service. She urged her fellow patients to dive headfirst into living and to stay committed to follow-up medical appointments so they can keep exploring what life has to offer.

“Get out, get physical, and get healthy,” she said. “Find something you love and give back to it. You will be a better person for it.”