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Another advocate Lost!!


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Meaghan Latone, 36, of Chili, who inspired strangers to create and participate in an April 5K run/walk to support lung cancer research, died Saturday of the disease.

Mrs. Latone wrote an essay published in the Democrat and Chronicle in November about lung cancer being the deadliest and most common of all cancers, yet one that receives less attention and research. The non-smoker said people assume the disease always is caused by smoking, which isn't true. She called for a "rainbow ribbon campaign" to give equal attention to all cancers.

Letters and phone calls of support poured in from other patients. Gail Wagner of Webster, whose niece died at age 32 of breast cancer, was so moved by Mrs. Latone's essay that she vowed to do something to help. Wagner, a long-time runner, organized the 5K event in Webster, which drew more than 800 runners and walkers despite being an inaugural event organized on short notice. Just 200 had registered in advance, and the rest just showed up.

"Here's the power of the written word — what this young gal's words inspired me to do," said Wagner.

The April 12 race raised more than $57,000 for cancer research at University of Rochester Medical Center. At the event, which started at Holy Trinity Church on Ridge Road in Webster, Mrs. Latone said, "People are just phenomenal how they rally around causes. It's overwhelming, but it's wonderful."

Bill Barry of Fairport, Mrs. Latone's father, said there will be future Meaghan's Runs. "The illness that claimed my daughter's life demands far greater attention — and much greater research," he said in a statement. The next event will be in April 2009, but the date hasn't been set.

Mrs. Latone, a 1989 graduate of Fairport High School, earned degrees from Monroe Community College and State University College at Brockport. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2006.

She died at Hildebrandt Hospice Care Center in Greece.

Mrs. Latone is survived by her husband, Michael; two children, Mia, 9, and Michael, 6; her mother, Elaine Licata, and Alix Licata of Florida; her father Bill Barry and Chris Barry of Fairport; in-laws Mike and Rosemary Latone of North Chili; brother Sean Barry and sister-in-law Pamela Raitt of Philadelphia; and brother Kevin Barry and stepsisters Laura (Bob) Mullin, Daisy (John Howe) Hutchinson, and brother in-law Matthew (Lyn) Latone, all of Rochester, and numerous friends.

Calling hours will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at Falvo Funeral Home, 1295 Nine Mile Point Road, Penfield. The funeral will be at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the chapel at White Haven Memorial Park, 210 Marsh Road, Perinton. The family invites donations in Mrs. Latone's name to Wilmot Cancer Center, 300 E. River Road, Box 278996, Rochester NY 14627.

For more about Meaghan's Run, see www.meaghans5k.com or call Wagner, (585) 872-5129.


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I actually bought the essay from the newspaper website's archives. Feel free to delete this if it violates some copyright rules or something.

Do not give lung cancer short shrift

Meaghan Latone

Meaghan Latone

Guest essayist

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. What? You didn't know? How can that be?

Didn't you know that lung cancer is the deadliest, and most common of all cancers? So, where is our national ribbon campaign? Just so you know, our ribbon color is clear or pearl. But unfortunately you won't see those ribbons prominently placed all over like the pink ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

We don't have any spokespeople that I know of. Our research is 20 years behind other cancers, even though each year more people will die from lung cancer than breast, liver, prostate, melanoma, colon and kidney cancers combined!

Why the lack of attention, of research? Because, like AIDS, lung cancer has a stigma. It is assumed that if we have lung cancer, it is our own fault — we smoked.

However, let it be known that there is a growing number of people, including myself, whose lung cancer was not caused by smoking. It is believed that environmental factors such as radon, asbestos and pollution are contributing factors.

Regardless of what causes the disease, the number of those afflicted each year is staggering — and while the number of breast cancer patients sometimes supersedes that of lung cancer patients, the mortality rate is significantly higher for lung cancer.

How can you keep your family safe? The problem is that there is a lack of early detection. As of yet there are no proactive diagnostic tests or tools, like mammograms or breast self-exams for breast cancer. Lung cancer patients often show no symptoms until the cancer has already spread and pain surfaces elsewhere in the body.

I had excruciating lower back pain. After a few attempts with medications and rest, I ended up in the hospital. After many x-rays and a spinal biopsy, a CT scan showed the cancer in my bones. The tumor had spread from the lung to my spine, pelvis, femurs and liver.

My case is not rare. About half the people diagnosed with lung cancer are in the advanced stages of the disease. By then, treatment offers little hope for a cure. Most of us diagnosed in stages 3 or 4 will die within five years. This is unacceptable. I'm 36. I'm married with two young children. I have things to do. My whole life is ahead of me. I didn't deserve cancer — nobody does. Not at any age; not any type.

I don't have the answers to try to reverse this scourge. I only know that until this disease gets the best of me, I have a responsibility to at least draw attention to it. The Pink Ribbon Campaign started somewhere, right? Someone got fired up enough to do something about breast cancer. Now it's my turn. I'll take the first swing for the team.

November is our month. I ask for heightened public awareness. I ask for financial attention to research and diagnostic tests. I ask for tools for early detection. I ask the world to think twice before making an assumption that we caused our own cancer.

My life could very easily be yours.

I expect and encourage a collective outrage to bring about a "Rainbow Ribbon Campaign" in which all cancers get equal attention!

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