Actor, activist, and author teams up with LCRF to increase awareness of lung cancer and honor Dr. Brendon M. Stiles for his service to the foundation and the lung cancer community
NEW YORK, NY (September 21, 2022) – Annabelle Gurwitch, who was diagnosed with Stage IV EGFR non-small cell lung cancer when she went in for a COVID-19 test in 2020, will emcee Lung Cancer Research Foundation’s (LCRF) 2022 Evening of Innovation Gala on September 28, honoring Dr. Brendon M. Stiles. Ms. Gurwitch recently shared opening remarks at the opening plenary session of International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) World Conference on Lung Cancer in Vienna, Austria.
Dr. Stiles serves as LCRF’s Vice Chair for its Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board and is Professor and Chief, Thoracic Surgery and Surgical Oncology, Department of Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgery at Montefiore-Einstein, and the Associate Director for Surgical Services in the Montefiore-Einstein Cancer Center. He is actively involved in both clinical and translational research, particularly focusing on lung cancer. His clinical research concentrates on the management of early stage or screen detected lung cancer and on novel multidisciplinary treatment strategies for patients with lung cancer. Having lost his own father to lung cancer in 2005, Dr. Stiles is committed to raising money for lung cancer research, serving as chair of the LCRF from 2017-2021.
Ms. Gurwitch is approaching her 2-year “cancerversary” and has been on a targeted therapy since her diagnosis, about which she has mixed feelings. She shared this personal statement with LCRF:
“My second “cancerversary” is coming up this fall, marking 2 years on a biomarker targeted therapy after being diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer during a routine COVID test. The biomarker targeted therapy has allowed me to continue living with a great quality of life and few side effects. Yes, I once was so overcome with fatigue that I had to lay down on a sidewalk to rest before I could make it the less than one mile from my home and I now drink more coffee than you’d think humanly possible, but there is a caveat: lung cancer is a particularly wily cancer. The cancer figures out how to develop resistance to even these new innovative gene targeted medications.
So, I want to help spread the message that researchers, scientists, and doctors who have dedicated their lives to finding new and innovative ways to identify and treat lung cancer – like Dr. Brendon Stiles – are close to understanding and countering this resistance to treatments. The difference in new advancements comes down to funding. Here’s some perspective:
- Lung cancer is still the neglected middle child of cancers overshadowed by breast and colon, both in diagnostic testing and fundraising efforts, even though more people will die of lung cancer than breast and colon cancer, combined.
- Per related death, spending: $1,680 for lung cancer research compared to $24,846 for breast cancer.
For me, there’s a ticking clock. My oncologist hasn’t had a patient get more than 5 years on the medication I am now taking. The next line of treatment won’t be as easy to tolerate, will impact my quality of life and, once progression starts, the clock is ticking even faster. I hope to see the resistance overcome; I hope the advancements come in time for me. I’m the mother of a 24-year-old who graduated college during a COVID lockdown, and I want to be around to see them get established, continue to thrive, and (fingers crossed) get to see some grandchildren! But even if the advancement doesn’t come in time for me, I’m determined to see that the next person who receives a diagnosis like mine has a better chance at long term survival.”
In addition to honoring the career and contributions of Dr. Stiles, LCRF will honor Dr. David Hidalgo with its inaugural Founder’s Award. The Founders Award honors individuals who make significant contributions to LCRF and exemplify the spirit and ideals of the founders of the organization.
“We’re so pleased to be honoring both Dr. Stiles and Dr. Hidalgo at this event,” said Reina Honts, chair of LCRF’s Board of Directors. “Dr. Stiles’ personal and professional contribution to lung cancer patients and his commitment to accelerating lung cancer research is immeasurable. We are indebted to Dr. Hidalgo’s long-standing support of lung cancer research and the mission of LCRF. It is my pleasure to recognize them both for their contributions.”
LCRF’s Evening of Innovation Gala is sponsored in part by Bristol Myers Squibb. Supporters of lung cancer research can learn more about the event, which will be held on September 28 at the Metropolitan Club in New York City, by visiting LCRF.org/gala.
About Annabelle Gurwitch:
Annabelle Gurwitch is a New York Times bestselling author of five books, including her most recent collection of essays, You’re Leaving When? Adventures in Downward Mobility (paperback, spring 2022) a New York Times’ Favorite Book for Healthy Living 2021. Ms. Gurwitch was the longtime host of Dinner & a Movie on TBS, a regular NPR contributor, and has written for The New Yorker, New York Times, The Washington Post, Hadassah Magazine, O Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal, amongst other publications. She co-hosts the Tiny Victories podcast on the Maximum Fun Podcast Network, and recently published an article in the Washington Post titled “Tackling cancer while battling the insurance system.”
Ms. Gurwitch has been an activist for numerous causes including environmental sustainability and housing insecurity. In the Spring of 2020, a routine Covid test led to diagnosis of Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. Ms. Gurwitch wrote about the diagnosis in a widely shared op-ed, “Covid Saved my Life” in the New York Times. Since then, she’s spoken and written about living with lung cancer on Good Morning America, and in interviews on Salon.com, NPR, and numerous other media outlets. Her most recent cancer chronicle was the viral op-ed “The End of my Life was Killing Me” in the Washington Post. Gurwitch is a dedicated atheist and a doting Jewish mother of a 20-something gender queer person. She lives in Los Angeles.
About the Lung Cancer Research Foundation (LCRF)
The Lung Cancer Research Foundation® (LCRF) is the leading nonprofit organization focused on funding innovative, high-reward research with the potential to extend survival and improve quality of life for people with lung cancer. LCRF’s mission is to improve lung cancer outcomes by funding research for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of lung cancer. To date, LCRF has funded 394 research grants, totaling nearly $39 million, the highest amount provided by a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding lung cancer research. For more information, visit LCRF.org.
Sr. Director, Marketing & Communications, LCRF