“There’s no hope in that room,” Bonnie Addario told her husband when he asked how her speaking event went at a cancer support group in a major medical center in Northern California. 

She will never forget walking into that setting and seeing GRAY — walls, carpeting, draperies, and folding chairs positioned around gray oblong tables. “Everything looked gray,” says Addario, “even the people.”

In her mind, contracting cancer isn’t about dying, it’s about living, “and nobody was living in that room,” she says. Instead of support, it seemed as if that group went there prepared to die.

That talk would become a life-changing moment for Addario, author of The Living Room: A Lung Cancer Community of Courage  (Post Hill Press) along with Jon Land. She would go on to empower patients and give them a voice, a journey that began almost two decades ago when she herself received a stage 3B lung cancer diagnosis.

AN ABUNDANCE OF ADVOCACY 

In 2006, Addario and her family founded the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF). By 2019, ALCF and another organization, the Lung Cancer Alliance, had merged forming GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer — the largest lung cancer patient advocacy organization in the United States.

A determined activist on behalf of patients suffering from the disease, Addario has built an extraordinary global network of fellow activists, patients, doctors, oncologists, researchers and caregivers — a thriving and ever-growing community devoted and committed to advocating on behalf of those patients and families affected by lung cancer.

The Living Room, which draws its name from a virtual support group live-streamed internationally once a month by Addario’s foundation, showcases 21 powerful and inspiring profiles of men and women united by this deadly disease. 

INSPIRE. HOPE. IMPACT.

The stories grab at your heart. They inspire. They provide hope. But most of all, the stories break down the stigmas associated with lung cancer and demonstrate how the new wave of treatment options are moving lung cancer toward becoming a manageable disease. They open your eyes to the miracles all around us, miracles that are happening every day. Miracles that just might happen to the next cancer patient who picks up this book. Some of the stories are of people who fought hard and lost, and yet, contributed hugely to the larger cancer community in ways that live on today.

To give you a flavor, here are just a few examples of these moving stories of fear, hope, courage, and determination: 

Bonnie Addario and Hank “the big hug” Baskett. Photo courtesy of Go2 Foundation.

Lucy and husband, Dr. Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgical resident entering his final year of training, had brought their baby girl, Cady, into the world just eight months before his passing. Lucy wrote the epilogue and published her husband’s bestseller, When Breath Becomes Air.

Hank “The Big Hug” Baskett, U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sergeant (retired), whose deployments took him all over the world, was diagnosed with lung cancer, but the physician treating him hadn’t done the proper biomarker testing and did not realize he was eligible for a targeted therapy. Until he met Bonnie Addario.

Gina Hollenbeck, was not yet 40 years old and the nonsmoking mother of two boys who looked the picture of health when she walked into the ER holding her X-rays under her arm and had to convince the doctors that something was seriously wrong with her. 

Matt Hiznay, a lifelong nonsmoker, was only 24 when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Early treatment saved his life.

Juanita Segura was a 51-year-old healthy eater and active in the CrossFit training regimen. The first doctor diagnosed her with asthma and prescribed an inhaler. Then the wheezing turned into a horrible cough. The next doctor had to deliver the news that she had lung cancer. “Dude,” she told him, “I don’t even smoke.”

Addario herself saw how difficult it was to get the proper diagnosis and treatment. “I  fought, I educated myself, and I kept asking someone to give me a chance to survive,” says Addario. 

And now, she is doing that for others. All proceeds from The Living Room benefit research and patient services.

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Bonnie J. Addario is Co-Founder, Board Chair and patient advocate of GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, as well as an educator. She has empowered patients and given them a voice since receiving a stage 3B lung cancer diagnosis almost two decades ago. Recognizing the need for education, empowerment, advocacy, and research to help patients and families, Ms. Addario and her family founded the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) in 2006. In 2019, ALCF and the Lung Cancer Alliance merged, forming GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer. Ms. Addario acts as an adviser to industry leaders, clinicians, and policymakers and is a member of the Personalized Medicine Coalition board. In 2020, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CURE Magazine.