This year’s WebMD Health Hero is San Carlos’ very own Bonnie Addario, founder of the national Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.
The 2012 Health Hero award was granted to four individuals this year, all of whom are classified as extraordinary Americans who overcame a health challenge and had the motivation and inspiration to channel their experience into helping others.
Addario was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003 and after months of treatment she recovered, but a lifelong battle had just begun. Her personal experience made her realize how underfunded and under-acknowledged lung cancer research was as a whole. She saw this as a call to action.
“I was inspired to start my own foundation primarily because the survival rate for lung cancer has stayed at a fairly dismal 15 percent for 40 years and I wanted to know why,” Addario said.
In 2006, which has raised more than $10 million to date. Two years later in 2008, Addario launched the Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute, a nonprofit research consortium. The non-profit began bio-repositories in California and Colorado to be used for joint research among 17 doctors in the U.S. and Europe. The bi-repositories offer tissue, blood, and plasma samples from lung cancer patients that researchers can study in their pursuit for a cure, according to WebMD.
Lung cancer research receives a fraction of funding that other cancers do, according to Addario, mostly because lung cancer is stigmatized with smoking.
“Smoking is a bad actor, but it’s the cause for many diseases – heart diseases, many cancers, and we as a society should really take care of people with all life-threatening diseases and not discriminate against one in particular.”
According to the foundation, lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer, accounting for more than 30 percent of all cancer deaths. Nearly 80 percent of newly diagnosed lung cancer patients either never smoked or quit smoking decades ago.
Addario will receive a $2,500 donation to the foundation, as well as be featured in the WebMD Health Corp.’s magazine edition.