Discoveries Magazine

Cedars-Sinai

His 2nd Chance

At 39, Kyle Madden had everything to live for. He was planning his wedding. His business was thriving. Then suddenly, he was fighting for his life. His best odds: a trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles—and a tiny white pill.

It is hard to find a quiet place on a Friday afternoon in a Las Vegas hotel and casino, but Kyle Madden is doing his best. He walks briskly through the seemingly endless corridors—the swift gait of a man who’s spent 20 years navigating the hustle and bustle of busy restaurant floors.

Video

Kyle Madden’s oncologist Dr. Ron Natale discusses innovations in lung cancer research. Watch video »

His 2nd Chance

Two levels down, he finds a sitting area where the piped-in R&B and disco hits are more muted, and sits down. He is 41, but could easily pass for a man still in his 30s. Trim, with blondish-brown hair and glasses, he takes his smartphone out of his pocket and holds it up.

“I’m not the kind of guy who’s always showing pictures,” he says. “But I used to keep a picture of my lungs on my phone. It was the easiest way to explain things to people.”

What he had to explain was the seemingly unexplainable, the unthinkable: that at age 39, he had been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, the most advanced stage of the disease.
The grim news was beyond shocking. He had never even smoked.

“I was scared out of my wits,” he says. “I was just hearing: Cancer. Stages. Mortality. All I could think was, ‘I’m going to die.’”

There are no colored ribbons to help raise awareness about lung cancer. But more people succumb to the disease than from colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

Although smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, a surprising 10 percent of male patients and 20 percent of female patients are nonsmokers. Some of those cases are caused by environmental exposures, such as asbestos, but the cause of most lung cancers in nonsmokers remains unknown.

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