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Kites for a Cure Offers Hope for Survival

Pat Field and Stacy Kaufman
Pat Field and Stacy Kaufman
On an overcast Saturday afternoon, a light wind scattered the clouds across Cooper’s Beach in Southampton at the Eighth Annual “Kites for a Cure Benefit” against lung cancer organized by Uniting Against Lung Cancer.

More than 200 friends and families had gathered to make kites in memory of those who had succumbed to lung cancer and to raise money and hope for those who still suffer from the disease, which kills more people each year in the US than colon, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers combined. Still, it receives less federal research funding per death than any of the other major cancers.

But on a bench, surveying the crowd, and with a contented smile on her face, sat Pat Field, a five-time lung cancer survivor.

“I’ve just completed my last round of radiation,” she said. “It’s a new therapy called SBRT that’s 90 percent effective. It’s one of the newest advances in the fight against lung cancer and the acronym stands for stereotactic body radiation therapy for lung cancer—a type of radiation therapy in which a few very high doses of radiation are delivered to small, well-defined tumors. The goal is to deliver a radiation dose that is high enough to kill the cancer while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy organs.”

She added, “I only went through three rounds of SBRT, and on Tuesday, June 3, I get my next CT scan and we expect I’ll be diagnosed as cured.”

Uniting Against Lung Cancer, the Kites for a Cure sponsoring charity, was founded in 2001 in memory of Joan Scarangello, a Southampton resident and non-smoker who lost her battle with lung cancer. The Foundation has awarded more than $11.5 million in research grants to find a cure for the disease that will claim an estimated 160,000 lives in the U.S. this year.

For Pat Field that means she’s endured a diagnosis of lung cancer five times—the first in 1998—and survived.  “I’ve been through four lung surgeries and I’ve been going to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute since the beginning,” Field said. “Lung cancer returns, but it’s always a brand new primary cell cancer not a metastasized version of my original cancer. They say if you go five years without cancer your are cured. I broke that rule twice.”

As the wind began to pick up and the homemade kites took to the air, Stacy Kaufman, a friend of Field’s and a fellow lung cancer survivor, came over to wish her friend well. Together they held up a homemade kite with RIP written across the top in memory of all those they had known who had died of the disease.
S Kaufman May 26, 2014 at 06:00 PM
Hi Elizabeth, Thank u for covering the annual fundraising kite flight. As someone u mentioned in ur article, I have a few comments. Unlike Pat Field, who u profiled, I do not identify as a lung cancer survivor. I am closely surveilled by my oncologist every 3 months, becuz I have an aggressive form of the disease. With lung cancer, ur January ct scan can show no evidence of disease, and ur April scan will show the cancer has metastasized all over ur body - and you are heading for hospice. People with AIDS never refer to themselves as AIDS "survivors", but as people living with AIDS. I identify as a person living with lung cancer. For a wonderful and short essay by Susan Gubar on the topic, see http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/06/not-a-cancer-survivor/ In addition, Pat Field is the exception, sadly, and not the rule. She is not representative of the typical lung cancer patient. The dismal, sobering statistic is that about only 16 % of people diagnosed with lung cancer live 5 years. And this statistic has barely budged since Nixon declared war on cancer over 40 years ago. Many years ago, someone arbitrarily picked 5 year as a benchmark of something, but with all due respect to Pat, it is naive to think it indicates that one is cured. Two of my friends listed on my kite died of lung cancer after 6 years, and 7 years. So they beat the odds and luckily passed the random 5 year mark - but they were not cured. Not were they survivors. And lastly, speaking of my kite. I created it as my own personal tribute and remembrance of dear friends I lost to this dreaded disease. Pat did not know these people, so if u somehow got the impression, as u reported, that these dear friends of mine were also her friends, that is not true.

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