By Anna DeWine
BELLBROOK — After receiving an unlikely lung cancer diagnosis at age 62, one local woman has made it her mission to spread awareness and raise funds to eradicate lung cancer.
Cancer-free today, Joanne Coleman will participate in the Dayton Free to Breathe Run/Walk on Saturday, Oct. 22.
In May of 2014, Coleman was diagnosed with non-small cell adenocarcinoma after noticing abdominal pain. A non-smoker for all of her life, Coleman was in disbelief at the diagnosis.
“At the time, I was running circles around 30-somethings in the gym. I was in excellent physical shape with absolutely no symptoms for lung cancer,” Coleman recalled.
Because her cancer was caught early at Stage 1A, Coleman didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation. Within two weeks of her diagnosis, she was home recovering from a six-hour surgery in which doctors removed the lower right lobe of her lung and part of the middle lobe.
Coleman finds herself lucky to have had her cancer caught so early.
“This seldom happens as most lung cancer doesn’t manifest itself until the late stages of the disease. More and more women of my age are getting lung cancer and they really do not know why,” Coleman said.
After reconnecting with a friend who had also been diagnosed with lung cancer, Coleman got involved with the Free to Breathe foundation. Only with more funding and research, Coleman believes, can this disease that maintains a stigma of non-importance be eradicated.
“Free to Breathe has changed my perspective as lung cancer has changed my life,” Coleman wrote on her Free to Breathe fundraising page. The organization dedicates itself to doubling lung cancer survival by 2022.
And so Coleman continues the fight alongside her husband, a breast and prostate cancer survivor. The couple have six children and 11 grandchildren.
“No one thinks a nonsmoker can get lung cancer, but I’m here today to tell you that you can. Lung cancer is a byproduct of the environment as much as it is a byproduct of smoking,” Coleman said. “If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer, bottom line. I’m living proof.”
The Ninth Annual Lung Cancer 5K Run-Walk and 1-Mile Walk will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22 at Fifth Third Field, 220 N. Patterson Blvd. in Dayton. Registration and check-in will open at 8 a.m. Register online by Oct. 19. Join Team Coleman4ACure by visiting www.freetobreathe.org/dayton.
Reach Anna DeWine at 937-502-4498.