Forty-four-year-old Leah Bochnicek of Omaha was diagnosed in December 2013 with stage 4 lung cancer, even though she's never smoked a day in her life.
"If someone tells you at 42 your life expectancy is two to three years and you have three children and a husband..."
She tested positive for a mutation, so the marble-sized tumor was treatable with an oral medication, no chemotherapy, no radiation. "Originally they told me, well this medicine will keep the cancer from growing. By the third scan it was gone."
But the medicine won't work forever. "The cancer outsmarts the medicine eventually. It becomes resistant." And the tumor will grow again. That's why research is so important to her and so many others. Her family has started the Lungs4Life Foundation.
The FDA recently approved another medication, currently in various clinical trial phases.
A Ballroom Benefit fundraiser will be held from 2-5 p.m. Sunday at Sokol Auditorium, 13th and Martha streets, to kick off Lung Cancer Awareness Month. All the money raised goes to the Nebraska Medicine Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha.