Man fights lung cancer, spreads awareness
Marc Cohen didn't think much about the sore throat he developed last June. A quick trip to the doctor and a round of antibiotics later, he figured he was good to go.
At his doctor's suggestion, he got a routine chest x-ray "because it had been over a year" since his last one.
Then came the spot. It looked suspicious, Cohen's doctor told him, so he ordered a follow-up CT scan. The news became more troubling -- the mass looked like a lung tumor. A PET scan confirmed the results.
"When my doctor told me it was cancer, I felt an electric shock run through my body," Cohen recalled. "I freaked out."
From the beginning, Cohen and his wife Deborah agreed they would "do whatever they had to" to help him beat the disease.
First came the first rounds of what Cohen called "heavy chemo." For seven-and-a-half hours every three weeks, the powerful chemotherapy drugs coursed through Cohen's veins. Steroid shots kept his immune system from being completely devoured.
"By the fifth round, I was so sick," Cohen recalled. "My doctor said my body had enough of (that kind) of chemo, so he started me on a" less harsh tumor-targeting drug.
The treatment showed early signs it was working -- tumors in Cohen's lungs began to shrink.
Cohen is now in "phase two" or his treatment. Currently, he's receiving low-dose chemotherapy and radiation targeted to two tumors in his right lung. He hopes his next PET scan, scheduled for the end of November, will bring more good news.
"You've got to keep a positive attitude, and get involved with resources in your community," Cohen said.
One of the biggest misconceptions about lung cancer? "That it's only a smoker's disease," Cohen said. Although he smoked a pack a day for many years, Cohen also has the gene that can cause lung cancer.
He formed a lung cancer support group earlier this year and said it's been "great therapy. You can talk to other people. Someone is there who understands what you're going through." Cohen said he is available 24/7 to anyone struggling with a lung cancer diagnosis.
"He's shown tremendous strength. He is the most courageous person I know," Deborah Cohen said. "He's so passionate about raising awareness about lung cancer. Marc totally immersed himself in that mission."
Cohen said his wife gives him strength, "If not for Deborah, I don't know how I would have gotten through this."
For more information, contact Cohen at 941-240-8989. The support group meets 2-3 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month at Sarasota Memorial Emergency Room and Health Care Center, 2345 Bobcat Village Center Road, North Port (off Toledo Blade Boulevard).