My name is Donna-Lee Lista, I’ve been married to Ray for over 30 years and I’m mother to two daughters: Caroline and Alexandra. After having my yearly scan in February 2014, I am now an 8 year lung cancer survivor.
I was diagnosed at age 47 on January 19th 2006. It was an incidental find so I was luckier than most. As a never smoker, the one cancer I never dreamed I could get was lung. I thought people who didn’t smoke didn’t get lung cancer, WRONG! I moved very quickly through the medical process and was operated on Feb 14th 2006. I had an upper right lobectomy and followed up with 4 rounds of chemo, I was stage 2b. The last two rounds of chemo were very tough, but I had a wonderful support system and made it through.
I have been cancer free ever since my surgery, which brings me to where my life has been dedicated ever since. I am a lung cancer advocate. I have worked with wonderful organizations such as LCFA- Lung Cancer Foundation of America, LCA-Lung Cancer Alliance and I am presently on the board of the PA Chapter of NLCP-National Lung Cancer Partnership. I serve on the Directors Leadership Council of Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine as well as write a blog called “Through the Looking Glass” for www.oncolink.org as the lung cancer advocate. I served on the committee for the 2nd Annual Lung Cancer Crystal Ball in Philadelphia. I also talk to newly diagnosed patients and help them through the lung cancer process, as a “lung cancer buddy.” It helps patients tremendously to see that people do survive and to have someone that can understand all they are going through.
On the personal front, Ray and I are empty nesters now, although our youngest is due back from college in about a month. Our oldest is working for Penn medicine in Marketing as Marketing specialist and I am working 4 days a week for Nationwide Ins. My hubby and I are staying very busy traveling to see our youngest play lacrosse and overall trying to enjoy our time together.
In the last 18mos to 2 years I have seen such advances in the treatment of lung cancer and it gives me such hope that we are on a road to saving so many more lives and gaining national attention to help promote our cause and negate the stigma associated with a lung cancer diagnosis. I will continue to do what I can to spread the word and help all the people working to make a difference and find treatments and cures for lung cancer.