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Survivors, families run for LUNGevity

By: RICK MURRA Y, Staff Writer09/16/2006

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McCarthy, renowned locally for all the human interest he could bring to life through his lens, died of lung cancer early this year.

He had learned of his illness this time last year, four months before he participated in the 2nd Annual South Jersey Lung Cancer Walk/Run, benefiting the non-profit LUNGevity Foundation, a national organization based inChicago .

"LUNGevity is the only organization in the country dedicated exclusively to funding lung cancer research," said Heather Saler, a Marlton resident and organizer of the event to be staged again this year for its 3 rd Annual incarnation on Nov. 5 at Cooper River Park .

A former business development officer for a Philadelphia law firm, Saler now spends lots of time at home with her 8-year-old son, Tyler. She counts her blessings that the lung cancer she was diagnosed with in 2003 seems to have gone into remission.

But she remembers the terror she felt when she was initially diagnosed, and most especially, she remembers her surprise.

"I never smoked in my life," she said in an interview last week.

According to Saler, there is a feeling among the public at large that lung cancer shouldn't get that much funding for research because it is an illness contracted by people with a weakness - an addiction to smoking cigarettes.

"But no one deserves to get cancer," she said, noting lung cancer kills more Americans each year than breast, colorectal, pancreatic or prostate cancers.

The idea for this walk/run event, as with most other such fund-raisers, is for participants to solicit corporate or other entities to put up money in way of sponsorship. All proceeds go to LUNGevity.

Kyle McCarthy, 18-year-old son of Mike McCarthy, said his mother Janet and brother Casey, 25, will be participating in this year's LUNGevity Walk/Run along the Cooper River .

"People can either pay themselves during registration or get a sponsor," said Kyle McCarthy, whose family lives in Collingswood. "My dad walked last year after he found out he had lung cancer, so we'll be walking in his name."

Kyle said he met Saler during a cancer benefit dinner and came away impressed at how committed she is to encouraging the public to become much more active in the fight against lung cancer.

"She's a real nice lady," McCarthy said, noting. "People should really get involved in this event because money being spent on cancer research isn't being spent on lung cancer but on other cancers because of the stigma of people who smoke."

Thus far this year, approximately 174,470 Americans were newly diagnosed with lung cancer, according to Saler.

"Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer," McCarthy said. "We really have to do something about it."


For more information, call organizers at 856-222-4537 or e-mail bsaler@comcast.net

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