Raising Awareness for Lung Cancer

Bill Alfano's picture
Bill Alfano

Raising Awareness for Lung Cancer

Two-year PMC cyclist Diane Legg is a devoted wife, mother of three boys, and a seasoned half marathon runner and cyclist. She is also a medical miracle living with stage IV lung cancer for nine years - four years longer than nearly all people who have the same disease. As a result, she is a champion for others; she serves as a national advocate for lung cancer awareness and research and is an athlete for charity. 

Uncertain of her life expectancy, Legg’s focus is to stay active, be positive, and to take life one day at a time while creating new memories with her family.“I share my story because I want everyone to know you can still live well with a serious diagnosis, and it doesn’t have to define who you are,” says Legg.  

In 2004, Legg’s cancer was discovered by accident when she pulled out her back lifting her then one-year-old son. A CT scan revealed that she had lung cancer. After surgery to remove half of her left lung, Legg endured four rounds of chemotherapy. Two years later, the cancer resurfaced in both lungs. She has since had no other treatments, though she is preparing to start a targeted therapy next month.  

For the past seven years, Legg has served as the co-director for the New England chapter of the Lung Cancer Alliance. Last year, she and her family traveled to Washington DC to encourage legislators to pass a bill allocating more government funding for lung cancer research. Legg has been honored for her work by the American Lung Association, and LUNGevity.  Among her many accomplishments, Legg founded “Shine a Light on Lung Cancer,” a national vigil sponsored by the Lung Cancer Alliance.  

“More has happened for lung cancer patients in the last five years than in the last 30 years,” says Legg.  

Since her diagnosis, Legg has participated in four half-marathons, one of which she completed last spring with her son, Cole. For the last two years, she has ridden in the PMC as part of Team LUNGStrong. To date the team has raised over $650,000. 

Team LUNGStrong, a group of 60 PMC cyclists, was founded in 2010 by Legg’s husband, Dave, 50, a five-time PMC cyclist. Nearly two years ago, the couple co-created LUNGstrong, a nonprofit organization dedicated to growing Team LUNGstrong, supporting the PMC’s mission: to raise money for adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, funding innovative lung cancer research in hopes of finding a cure.  

“What I love about the Pan-Mass Challenge is that it is a ride and not a race – just like in life, you have to take it one step at a time,” says Legg. “When I rode last year, I saw people of all shapes and sizes riding, many of whom were in cancer treatment. It is the sense of accomplishment and knowing that 100 percent of every dollar raised goes to an incredible cause that has inspired us to create LUNGstrong.”  

After all that she has been through in her many roles while defying medical odds, Legg has two pieces of advice that she would like to share with people living in similar situations: Try not to worry about the future; Try not to be afraid. 

“People think you can’t do something because you have an illness which sometimes makes you not even want to try,” says Legg. “I began participating in athletic fundraising events when my college roommate challenged me to run a half marathon shortly after my second diagnosis. At the time, I thought I couldn’t do it because I was missing half of a lung, but, with training and the support of loved ones, I did it. And, if I can do it, you can do it.”  

Legg provides a powerful message for women, parents, athletes and cancer patients alike. Her story is featured in this month’s edition of Prevention magazine. 

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. 

 

In 2012, two-year PMC cyclist Diane Legg threw out the first ceremonial pitch during PMC Day at Fenway Park.


Post courtesy of Teak Media + Communication