Bev Moir

My story began in May 2019 when my husband and I returned from a European river cruise. Over half the vacationers developed a respiratory infection, including three of the four in my group. While they recovered quickly, my symptoms lingered. Thinking I had strep throat, I saw my Family Physician, who included a chest X-ray in her assessment. I was unaware the chest X-ray reported metastatic nodules when my physician referred me to the Respirologist, who I saw for well-controlled asthma. When his office called to book an appointment on short notice, I became suspicious something was wrong.

Following a course of antibiotics, the second chest X-ray hadn’t changed. As a healthy, active person, it was a shock to realize things were serious. Fortunately, my Respirologist referred me to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s specialized Lung Diagnostic Assessment Clinic. When a CT scan of my lungs showed the primary tumor hiding behind my heart, my worst fear was confirmed. My husband I were shocked. Subsequent biomarker testing identified the EGFR + mutation.

As a never-smoker, the unexpected stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis was a gut punch. It was a frightening, stressful period for my family and me. I’m healthy, longevity runs in our family, and suddenly I was facing the prospect of premature death; it was daunting. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone during this dark time. I’m grateful for the caring community of my loving husband, family, friends, former colleagues, and clients who surrounded me and continue to do so. 

I retired in February 2020 to enjoy retirement, focus on my health, and learn about lung cancer. Very quickly, two aspects of my circumstances motivated me to become a lung cancer advocate. First, I knew how fortunate I was to access biomarker testing and receive targeted therapy quickly. Both advances have revolutionized lung cancer diagnosis and treatment by allowing lung cancer patients to get the proper treatment for their unique cancer at the right time. I became more hopeful when I learned that diagnostic tools and therapies are available to make lung
cancer a chronic disease, allowing patients to live longer and better lives. 

My second motivation to speak out for lung cancer was learning that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in North America and globally, but that statistic is poorly known. As a former health care worker, I can tell you it wasn’t on my radar screen at all. Historically, lung cancer has faced a chronic lack of public awareness and under-funding compared to the more common breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. Lung cancer’s association with smoking has negatively impacted its ability to gain public support. While smoking remains a strong predictor of a lung cancer diagnosis, the incidence of lung cancer found in never-smokers, such as myself, is rising. I learned that anyone with lungs could be diagnosed with lung cancer. I felt a strong need to speak out and give back.

I joined the growing community of lung cancer advocates to raise public awareness and much-needed support for this deadly disease. Now, two years later, I’m grateful that my targeted therapy has shrunk my tumors by 70%, and I feel healthy, happy and lead an active lifestyle. I’m hopeful for the future and grateful for the scientific advances that have helped me. Due to research and innovation, more precise therapies and treatments are becoming available. These scientific advances save and extend our lives. 

My diagnosis deepened my perspective on my life; it allowed me to reflect more deeply and appreciate all the beautiful people in it. I’m grateful for each day and glad to feel well enough to enjoy my life and advocate for lung cancer. 

My husband and I, both avid golfers, are launching a charity golf tournament with our dedicated committee this Fall. We’re raising funds for advanced lung cancer diagnostics at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON, and supporting their goal that more Ontarians will benefit from advanced diagnostics that lead to precise therapies for their unique mutations. 

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