Misdiagnosed lung cancer patient joins Lung Cancer Foundation of America to share how persistence saved her life

Massachusetts woman continues her fight alongside other activists with Lung Cancer Foundation of America during November, Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Linnea Olson knew something was wrong. It was 2001, and she didn’t feel good. Linnea felt weak, sick, had pronounced shortness of breath, and a chronic cough. As a non-smoker, lung cancer was not an immediate consideration for her doctors. She didn't even know about the Lung Cancer Foundation of America (LCFA), which is now a big part of her life. 

Linnea was initially diagnosed with and treated for adult-onset asthma. But she didn’t feel better. Her general practitioner jotted some notes in Linnea’s medical file about checking for lung cancer and left town for a trip. He was aboard one of the planes that hit the twin towers on 9/11.

For several years, doctors struggled to diagnose her pain and thought it might be multiple sclerosis or hypochondria. Four years later, a bout of pneumonia finally led to a CT scan and a biopsy which revealed stage 1B lung cancer.

Linnea has since become a patient advocate and a lung cancer activist for LCFA. She has learned to live with lung cancer as a manageable, chronic condition, and uses a wicked sense of humor to face her diagnosis: instead of saying she's NED (No Evidence of Disease), Linnea says she’s NDY (Not Dead Yet).

Linnea has lived in Lowell for five years and says it's been a wonderful place to live, especially throughout the time she's had cancer because of the easy access to treatment. Her family, including her three children, all live in Massachusetts and have supported her through this battle. She tries to make the most out of every day, whether it is spending a day at the ocean, trekking through the forest, or working on her art and writing. 

As part of her advocacy, Linnea participated in a televised Q&A session about lung cancer on Wednesday with renowned lung cancer researcher Dr. Christine Lovly of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Linnea and Dr. Lovly shared information about new research and treatments available for lung cancer patients. The interview will be available on EverydayHealth.com.

Linnea and Dr. Lovly will be talking about new research into better ways to diagnose and treat lung cancer patients:

  • Liquid biopsies: a simple blood test being tested to diagnose lung cancer and find biomarkers that could lead to better treatments.
  • Immunotherapy: drugs that help a patient’s own immune system fight cancer without damaging healthy cells.
  • Targeted therapies: drugs developed for specific biomarkers found in some tumors that slow the cancer's growth.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Linnea Olson and other members of Lung Cancer Foundation of America's advocacy community are available for conversation with the media.


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About Lung Cancer Foundation of America

LCFA’s mission is the improvement in survivorship of lung cancer patients through the funding of transformative science.

While raising funds to support lung cancer research, LCFA will raise the public’s awareness and serve as a resource for patients or anyone seeking answers, hope, and access to updated treatment information, scientific investigation, and clinical trials.

The Lung Cancer Foundation of America's Speakers Bureau is a group of survivors and those whose lives have been affected by lung cancer. Their mission is to spread awareness, information and hope in the fight against the leading cause of cancer death. Bureau speakers are available for interviews with the media.