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Personal Approach to Cancer Treatment

Elementary school teacher Lynda Fisher had never smoked tobacco in her life. Her family didn’t have a history of cancer. But at age 59, Fisher learned that she had a tumor the size of a grapefruit in her lung. She went to four different oncologists, including Philip D. Bonomi, MD, at Rush (pictured left).

“He was the only one who gave me hope that I would live,” Fisher said. “The rest talked to me like I had a death sentence.”

Fisher and her husband, Larry, experienced a personal approach with Bonomi and his team, including oncology nurse Irene Haapoja, RN, MSN. Bonomi was available on the phone early in the morning and late at night, and Haapoja took great care to make Lynda as comfortable as possible during treatments, especially while waiting for test results.

“He has a very positive attitude and treated us like friends,” Larry Fisher said about Bonomi. “His team works like a well-run machine.”

Lynda Fisher’s lung cancer returned about six years after her initial treatment. She continued coming to Bonomi and his team at Rush and has been cancer-free since 2007. She said she is grateful to have been given more years to enjoy life with her husband, see her children grow and establish themselves, experience the joys of becoming a grandmother to three grandchildren, have additional years in the classroom teaching the next generation and helping Rush with an important research effort.

In gratitude for Lynda’s care, Lynda and Larry Fisher made a gift in support of lung cancer research at Rush. With gifts like the Fishers’, researcher Jeffrey A. Borgia, PhD, and others at Rush are working to develop a simple, cost-effective blood test for earlier detection of lung cancer.

“I walked around for probably eight to 10 years with a tumor growing inside me and didn’t know it,” Lynda Fisher said. “If by taking an annual blood test, I could have found the cancer sooner, I’d have been able to start treatment before it grew so large and my prognosis would have been better.”

To learn more about supporting lung cancer care and research at Rush, contact Kristin Stewart, director of development, at or (312) 942-3517.

Read more about lung cancer research at Rush.

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