Awareness • Early Detection • Treatment • Research • Survivorship

Mary Anne Rios is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

Mary Anne Rios, diagnosed in August 2010 with incurable Stage 3B Lung Cancer was a shock to me, and my family. I am a non-smoker. At that time we had only heard of smokers being diagnosed with lung cancer. We now know that if you have lungs you could be diagnosed with lung cancer. Although there are no pre-screening for early diagnosis for non smokers there are six important symptoms.
Here are the six symptoms printed in the October issue of Ladies Home Journal this past month. I had them all and was misdiagnosed by 3 doctors:

– A cough that lasts longer than three weeks, or any cough with blood
– Losing weight without trying
– Shortness of breath, wheezing, hoarseness
– Persistent chest, back or shoulder pain
– Unusual, ongoing fatigue
– Recurring respiratory infections – colds, bronchitis, pneumonia
for more details on symptoms please visit

On October 4th, 2010 I asked my doctor why wasn’t’ there awareness for lung cancer as there was for breast cancer he turned the question to me. We agreed that due to the stigma of smoking, no celebrity spokesperson, and the political aspect lung cancer was left in the shadows.

But I was not going to give up. I wanted bracelets so I had my own made stating “Lung Cancer Sucks….And Then You Live” And because of the prayers, support, help with awareness and a new targeted treatment…. I could one of the 15% that survives.

On that same day I found Lung Cancer Alliance, and the organization was hosting vigils to raise awareness. I couldn’t wait to go. There was one in San Diego, perfect I thought I could see my niece. But then I saw the link to host your own…only a month away my family, friends, LHS colleagues, students (current & former) supported me in this effort and we had a successful event.

I have had over 80+ various chemo cocktail treatments, 50- radiation treatments to my chest (3 different areas), whole brain radiation, and spine radiation. I am currently on the new targeted treatment Tarceva, a pill taken daily, and a monthly shot called Xgeva for the cancer in my bones/bone marrow.

My diagnosis:
Non small cell Lung Cancer Adenocarcinoma metastasized to 3 brain tumors
Supraclavicular adenopathy
Secondary Malignant neoplasm of bone and bone marrow

My last scans showed small spots on my good lung, a spot on my liver….but the Tarceva appears to be working as my brain tumors are negligible, and my lymph nodes have shrunk drastically.

Throughout this journey we have had many ups and downs. When you never stop being treated for lung cancer it does become your life unfortunately. There have many things I couldn’t participate in for certain health reasons. So my family & friends made adjustments…and many of my bucket list wishes came true this last year.

My mission and wish is to RAISE AWARENESS FOR LUNG CANCER. So if you see a white ribbon you know it’s lung cancer. And if someone tells you they have lung cancer…the most insulting question you could ask is “how long did you smoke:” 28,000 Americans will die this year from lung cancer and being non-smokers.