In 2009, 219,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with lung cancer

Only smokers get lung cancer

Lung Cancer kills more people than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in non smokers

Lung cancer is an “old man’s disease.

The five year survival rate is approximately 15%

I stopped smoking 30 years ago, so my risk for lung cancer is the same as someone who never smoked.

Lung cancer research is significantly underfunded.

Lung cancer is not treatable

Every hour approximately 19 people will die from lung cancer.

Susan Levin receives 2008 Jefferson Award

The Jefferson Awards were founded in 1972 by Sam Beard, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Senator Robert Taft to honor people who do outstanding community service. The awards are presented on both the national and local levels. The recipients of the New Jersey State Jefferson Awards are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.

For several months prior to the event, The Star-Ledger accepted nominations from readers which were reviewed by a panel of judges. Winners from across the Garden State were chosen for their exceptional community service and acts of charity.

Susan Levin is a 2008 New Jersey State Jefferson Award recipient. She was nominated by Earl Jaffe, who wrote the following essay describing her service background:

It is both an honor and a privilege to nominate Susan Levin, the founder and president of Lung Cancer Circle of Hope (LCCH) – the only grassroots organization based in NJ that is solely devoted to increasing awareness of the #1 cancer killer of men and women.

Susan is not only the heart and soul of the group but its driving force. Her mission is to do whatever she can to prevent one more family from having their loved ones face the shock of a lung cancer diagnosis – a shock that Susan and her family understand all too well.

Like so many other people they thought only smokers got lung cancer. Susan’s mother, a non-smoker who survived the Holocaust but did not survive late stage lung cancer because the disease was never even considered a possibility. Her daughter moved to NJ, became her mother’s primary care giver and learned more about the disease than she ever wanted to know.

She also learned that there was not one NJ group advocating on behalf of lung cancer patients, survivors, their families and those at risk and decided that cannot continue. LCCH was incorporated in January 2006.

As the group’s volunteer webmaster (Susan was very persuasive), I have witnessed the commitment, passion and understanding Susan has brought to the job she has undertaken – to reduce both the incidence and mortality rates currently associated with lung cancer.

To accomplish this mission she approached 12 hospitals located throughout the state asking them to sponsor lung cancer symposiums. These events have educated almost 700 people to the facts surrounding the disease.

LCCH sponsored a program in November, 2007 directed at women and how the disease is different; the free program was held in New Brunswick and about 75 people attended. She and volunteers have distributed almost 3,000 pieces of literature at health fairs throughout the state.

Susan works tirelessly to eradicate the stigma associated with lung cancer, namely that it is a life style choice and therefore someone deserves it. To address the issue of disparities in cancer research funding, Susan established the Chasia Fund (named for her late mother), which will be awarding a research grant for lung cancer discovery within the next year – all of this on a shoestring budget.

Susan credits her mother’s lung cancer diagnosis with giving her an opportunity to “meet her mother” and for that she is grateful. Like everything else in her life she strives to turn negatives into positives.

I applaud what Susan has done. Her New Jersey community is a better place for her efforts. I therefore urge the committee to consider Susan Levin for a Jefferson Award.

Dr. Barbara Rabinowitz of the Meridian Hospital System, Dr. Mika Sovak of CINJ, Dr. Luis Berrizbetia of Princeton Medical Center and Lenore Guido of Gilda’s Club are among the many who will attest to what Susan has and is doing to make a difference.