Stories of Hope & Action

The people who have generously shared their stories here hail from all walks of life. These inspiring people have been touched by lung cancer and their recollections are full of hope and survival, even amidst hardship and loss.

Young and old, men and women, survivors and those who lost loved ones – one common theme runs through the hearts of these stories: hope for a better future and a determination to make a difference for all those affected by lung cancer.

The Lung Cancer Initiative provides these stories of North Carolinians against lung cancer as a source of comfort and solidarity for all those who have been touched by this disease.

To share your own story, email Megan Snowdowne.



Ashely Corn – "There are so many things in our life that we take for granted and as cliché as it is- you never truly know what you have until it’s gone."



Justin Brian Nicholson – Meet Justin Brian Nicholson and his family, and hear his story of hope in the fight against lung cancer.

Shirley Billingsley – “My journey with cancer is not a textbook case.  When I was first diagnosed, I had a 7% chance to live the first year… I am truly a miracle.”

Shannon Butterworth-Blankenship – “For us we chose to focus on the good days and the great memories, even though the hard days are still there”

Eva Fisher - "Even deep in the battle of the cruel and relentless onslaught of stage IV lung cancer, my mom showed me what true fighters are made of."

The Goodson Family - "Dad, I'm sorry you're having a bad day."  "It's okay.  I've had a good life."

Nancy Grinstead – “The next day I got the call.  I was to go to the hospital at once for a CT scan.  Diagnosis:  Small cell lung cancer, Stage 1.”

Rosemary Haney - "I am alive to talk about these issues; therefore I must.  I have found that I am so passionate about the lung cancer movement that I feel empowered just by talking about it."

Tomma Hargraves – “I so believe that as a nearly 7-year survivor I am supposed to do something with my gift of lung cancer to help others as they face this journey.”

Gilbert Hensgen – “I will not be running the race on Saturday but I will be there, and I will walk. I will not beat my son's time but I will finish the race.”

Susan C. Hicks – “Mom said that she had cancer to survive and help others. Our Mom’s spirit is what drives our family to continue this fight against lung cancer, and for this we survive for her.”

Heather Hooper - “I knew I had to make a difference, not only for lung cancer patients like my father, but for their daughters too.”

Mary Willaims-Kotnik – Sara's Story - "Her legacy to me is her example of unwavering trust in God, love of others, and resilient spirit. It is in her memory that I continue this fight against lung cancer.”

Jenner Lee - "My story has been a happy journey so far....but that is not true for everyone diagnosed with lung cancer."

Megan Lucovsky – “Pawpaw never let his diagnosis define him; he kept living life to the fullest.”

Meredith Lundy - "After treatment and surgery, I began to understand that sharing my journey with others who had a similar experience was an integral part of the healing process."

Mike McKay – “‘It all happened so fast,’ said, Mike, Jill’s sweetheart since the sixth grade. ‘She didn't even have the chance to respond to treatment.’”

Harold Morrow – “Harold began his battle after being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. He was told he had only six months. But Harold fought with determination and the tenacity to live.”

Anna Orsenigo - "My father was a wonderful man who defined happiness as being with family."

Caroline Quinn - "When I mentioned the race to the kids at breakfast, Lillie immediately spoke up: 'Mommy, we have to do that, so not one more little girl loses her daddy to lung cancer.'"

Kathi Roberts – “God has given me six more years, and I am thankful for every day.”

Sarah Rossini – "Through it all, she never showed her pain to my brother or me. She was the most courageous, outstanding, strong, and loving person I have ever met."

Steve Shakal  “Saying Steve Shakal has been through a lot would be an understatement.”

Laura Simpson – “My mom always taught me to never give up.”

Di'Ann Smith - "We [survivors] share our experience, strength and hope.  We know exactly what others are going through or have been through."

Ann Staples - "It makes me so sad that my mother didn’t get to see her grandchildren grow up… but I believe she’d be thrilled that I am trying to draw attention and raise funds for lung cancer prevention and treatment.”

Khaki Stelten – "When I got the chance to work here, it felt like far more than just a job opportunity. It felt like a calling – like I could make a difference."

Melissa Tanner - "For me, it is especially important to spread awareness that non-smokers can get lung cancer too: this is my dad’s story."

Diane Trump - "The Breathe for Diane team is new in name this year, but has been active for two years and is in support of Diane Trump who has been fighting both lung cancer and breast cancer."

Misty Valjevac - "I have since gotten married and have my own child and I now understand the love and fight my mom had in her."

Ann Wall - “If I can get them to listen, if I can help others avoid what I’m going through,” she said, “then my life with this disease will have been worthwhile.”

Jerry Walton - "I’m proof that lung cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence. With earlier detection and proper treatment, survivors can lead a “new normal” life - and even run a marathon!"

Nancy Wood “Thom used to say ‘Yes, I smoked but I don’t deserve to die because of a bad habit.’”

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