Lung cancer survivor's goal: Save more lives
Phyllis Goldstein never misses an opportunity to share her message. As the leader of the Lung Cancer Alliance of the Capital Region, she aims to raise awareness of the disease that takes the lives of 85 percent of those who contract it.
Goldstein's message carries special urgency. She is a lung cancer survivor since 2003, and although she is currently cancer-free, most people diagnosed live less than five years, due largely, she said, to a huge gap in research. Goldstein's current work as a volunteer follows a history of advocacy for those who didn't have a voice.
The 66-year-old daughter of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine and Austria-Hungary, she grew up in a poor section of Philadelphia, learned stenography after high school and became a secretary. She attended Temple University at night and completed her teaching degree over seven years. During that time she married her husband, Dr. Richard Goldstein, in 1964.
After a stint in Madison, Wis., where she was director of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, she and her husband moved to Albany. Their daughter, Heather, was born while she was working toward a master's of social work at the University at Albany.
Later, during her 20-year career at the state Office of Mental Health, she helped establish an annual research conference that brings together providers, patients, lawmakers and others involved with mental health issues.
Goldstein traces her wholehearted investment in each of her endeavors to her mother's profound influence on her life. Her mother, Goldstein said, fought schizophrenia and lived courageously despite the disease's crippling fear.
"She serves as a model to live each day the best that I can and to be passionate about whatever I undertake because so often she couldn't," Goldstein said, fighting back tears. After becoming involved in lung cancer advocacy, alarming statistics once again stirred Goldstein's fire for the disenfranchised. Unlike breast, prostate and colon cancer, she said, there is little recourse to detect lung cancer in its first stages.
Goldstein blames this on meager research funding for the disease: $1,829 per lung-cancer death, compared to $23,000 per breast-cancer death. She barely contained her anger when she asserted that the nearly $900 million dollars New York state received in the master tobacco settlement agreement was bonded to pay off the general debt.
"Not one cent was designated for lung cancer research," she said. Goldstein's mantra is that of securing research dollars in hopes of cutting lung cancer deaths in half by 2015 and educating everyone that battling the disease will take much more than stop-smoking campaigns.
BOB COWHERD Special to the Times Union
Section: Capital Region, Page: B5
Date: Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Bob Cowherd can be reached at 454-5420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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