Buffalo, NY - November is lung cancer awareness month. Lung cancer kills more people than any other type of cancer, so the diagnosis can be devastating for the patient and their families.
Pam Gioeli thought she had pneumonia when doctors found a lump on her lung. Testing confirmed it was cancer. She did not know anyone who had survived lung cancer, but was determined to fight. Pam says, "You have to base your life on living it everyday. You can't worry about dying everyday. You have to worry about living everyday."
So, she started to raise money for research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and her granddaughter picked up on the example.
While in middle school, Amanda Bukaty filled out the paperwork at school to sell bracelets she and her grandmother made.
She waited a year for permission to sell them at every lunch period for a month. Amanda says, "I was very surprised on how many people actually came up. People came one day. They'd bring 'em home. They'd come back and buy more the next day. They used them for Christmas presents. They used them for pretty much everything, birthdays." And that totaled $1,000.
Amanda's money, combined with her family's, added up to a $2,500 contribution at this year's Breath of Life Celebration at Roswell. The money will be used toward two projects. One is for early detection where screening is done with research layered over that screening. The hope is that markers can be identified in the cells of people at high risk.
Roswell is also learning more about lung cancer tumors on the molecular level. Mary Reid, PhD with Roswell Park's Thoracic Cancer Team says, "We want to find those sequences in the DNA, those genes, those breaks for that patient's tumor so we can target drugs and treat them." After January 1st, Reid says the hope is that every lung cancer diagnosed at Roswell can have certain genes looked at to determine the best treatment, but that takes money and equipment for which grants are not available.
The family of Pam Gioeli hopes their efforts will help others share her hope now that she's in remission. Pam says, "I can not imagine having to go through this alone. It just would be very, very difficult."
Now a freshman in high school, Amanda Bukaty encourages others to help and be good neighbors. "Do whatever you can to make a difference. Organize anything you think would work. Even if it's a little thing that you don't think people will support, people will support it.