Podcast: ‘You Have to Personalize the Miracles’

Two patients join top lung cancer expert Ross Camidge, MD, in sharing how CU Cancer Center program changes lives

For November’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Heather Smith and Melissa Turner share the stories of their cancer journeys. The women took very different routes to the CU Cancer Center and the world-renowned lung cancer care of Ross Camidge, MD. On this episode of the CU Anschutz 360 podcast, learn why they love everything about Dr. Camidge’s practice, especially the fact that he makes them laugh.

Dr. Ross Camidge et al

Melissa Turner had already survived two bouts of breast cancer, so the last thing she expected to hear in early 2018 after experiencing a series of mysterious symptoms was, “You’ve got lung cancer. I was in this incredible shock,” she recalled. “I had never smoked, and (lung cancer) was certainly the last thing I ever thought was going to be the issue.”

Heather Smith was only 34 when she was diagnosed with stage 4 ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer four years ago. In August 2019, the disease progressed quickly, metastasizing in her brain stem and causing violent seizures, one of which would have been fatal if not for the intervention of Heather’s spouse.

There is often the mistaken notion that lung cancer is one disease with one treatment for everybody. In fact, Camidge and his team have discovered many molecular subtypes of lung cancer, each demanding their own personalized, targeted therapies. “There’s no one miracle for everybody. You have to personalize the miracles,” he said. “I don’t mind us being viewed as a little miracle factory. Little ones are OK. They add up.”

The two women took different routes to the CU Cancer Center and the care of Ross Camidge, MD, PhD, professor and director of thoracic oncology in the CU School of Medicine’s Division of Medical Oncology. “I absolutely fell in love with him and his practice,” said Smith, who discovered Camidge after her fateful seizure. “He’s probably the best oncologist I could imagine. Plus, he tells a good joke”, according to the women. “He makes me laugh,” Turner said.

Both now living full and rewarding lives. They are grateful to have the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Colorado in their corner. Smith and Turner want people to understand the persistent misconceptions about the disease, which is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. For one, smoking is not the only cause of lung cancer. The disease can strike anyone with lungs. Neither woman smoked.

Listen to the podcast: https://soundcloud.com/cuanschutz-360/lung-cancer

SOURCE: Original article by Chris Casey in CuAnschutzToday at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus; Photo (left to right): Melissa Turner, Ross Camidge, MD, and Heather Smith, used by permission

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