Race to benefit cancer research

Mukilteo School District instructor recently told she has a rare lung disease
By David Pan | Aug 22, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Mukilteo School District instructional technology specialist Amie Parker was diagnosed with a rare lung cancer. Parker and her friends formed a non-profit organization to raise funds for research.

Amie Parker finally went to the doctor.

Parker, a runner with an active lifestyle, had been dealing with a persistent cough that would not go away.

During an April 2017 appointment, the doctor told Parker her cough likely was due to one of three reasons – allergies, asthma or acid reflux.

Various medications and treatments didn’t alleviate Parker’s symptoms and in October a chest X-ray and CT scan were ordered. Parker was referred to a a lung specialist.

The tests revealed a diagnosis that stunned Parker and her family.

The doctor told Parker she had stage-four lung cancer.

“It was a huge shock,” said Parker, who has two sons – Noah and Luke – with her husband Tony. “I have never been a smoker. This came out of nowhere.”

Recent studies have stated that non-smokers are accounting for a larger percentage of lung cancer cases and that many of these non-smokers were more likely to be female.

“Nobody has an idea how it happens,” Parker said. “We don’t know why.”

Parker said that she is fortunate in that she has a mutation – ROS1 – that makes her eligible for targeted chemotherapy. Her treatment consists of taking a pill twice a day that helps block the growth of tumors. Eventually the tumors will be become resistant to the drugs and patients move on to another treatment.

The downside is that the ROS1 mutation is rare, numbering about 1 to 2 percent of non-small cell lung cancers. As a result, funding for research about treatment options isn’t as extensive as other forms of cancer.

Following the shock of the diagnosis and the start of the targeted therapy, Parker said that her friends weren’t quite sure of how to support her.

Parker’s health is stable now. She’s back to work as an instructional technology tion specialist in the Mukilteo School District. Previously, she was an elementary school teacher in the district.

Parker, 45, describes her situation as waiting for what comes next and that the waiting could be a long time.

A friend came up with the idea of organizing a race to raise money for research.

“It’s better you have something to do than just sit there and do nothing,” Parker said.

Parker and her friends formed a non-profit organization called Lungbuster and are hosting a 5k/10k race in Mukilteo to benefit the Bonnie J. Addario Foundation’s ROS1 focused research fund.

The race is scheduled for Oct. 7 and will start and end at Kamiak High School and includes a hill that Parker said will “bust your lungs.”

Though she describes herself as not a fast runner, Parker plans on being out on the course.

“I’m planning on completing the 5k,” she said. “I don’t know if I’ll run the whole thing, but I will finish it.”

Registration is underway and Parker added that Lungbuster also is looking for volunteers to help with the race.

The Kid’s Dash will start at 8 a.m. and will be followed by the 10k run at 8:45 a.m. and the 5k run/walk at 9 a.m.

 

For more information on the Lungbuster 5k/10 race see: www.lungbuster.org.

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