Lung cancer patient encourages others to ‘Be your best advocate’

Linda Pernell is looking forward to her 55th high school reunion this summer in southern Oregon, maybe more so than the average person.

After being diagnosed with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), she wasn’t sure how much time she had left.

“I’ve been through a lot and I feel like a different person,” Linda says, recalling the last several years—the physical toll of the cancer and the desperate search for an accurate diagnosis.

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Posted May 23, 2016

New lung cancer therapies inspire hope at summit

There’s a saying in the lung cancer community: If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer.

It happened to Anne Gallagher, a patient navigator at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, and according to the American Lung Association, there are more than 400,000 Americans living today who have been diagnosed with lung cancer.

But there is hope, says Anne, who recently returned from this year’s LUNGevity Hope Summit in Arlington, Virginia.

The national gathering, which is held each year in May—Lung Cancer HOPE Month—provides support for survivors, caregivers and advocates and is an opportunity to give voice to their experiences. It’s also a chance for survivors to engage in educational sessions on topics like research, immunotherapy, living with lung cancer, nutrition, and becoming an empowered advocate.

“Five years ago, I attended my first Hope Summit and there were 40 people there,” Anne says. “This year, there were around 300.”

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Posted May 18, 2016

Harnessing the immune system to treat lung cancer

When it comes to improving the outcomes for patients with lung cancer, advances in treatment are important. And so is detecting the disease early.

In 2015, two significant breakthroughs happened: Medicare instituted coverage of lung cancer CT screening for those considered high-risk. And significant steps were made in the development of immunotherapy drugs.

“We’ve spent the last 20 to 30 years figuring out ways to kill rapidly dividing cancer cells,” says Willamette Valley Cancer Institute medical oncologist Dr. Matthew Lonergan. “We’ve now begun to figure out the pathway of immunosurveillance and how cancer cells escape the immune system.”

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Posted January 18, 2016

Quest for quality cancer care leads to Eugene

Lynn Samuels is on what she calls a "medical safari."

She and her husband, Loren, are temporary transplants in Eugene. They came here following an extensive search for the specialized care Lynn needed, which they found at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center, under the care of Dr. Jeff Sharman and Dr. Haidy Lee.

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Posted April 20, 2015

Lung cancer patient gets second chance with clinical trial

Doug Penn quit smoking 23 years ago. In early 2012, he had a persistent cough and was eventually diagnosed with Stage IIIB non-small cell lung cancer. On the day Doug arrived at WVCI to receive his second round of chemotherapy, Dr. Cho told him he was a good candidate of an immunotherapy clinical trial for an exciting experimental drug that produced rapid, dramatic reductions in tumors using the body's immune system.

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Posted December 10, 2013