Lung cancer walk slated

Rhawnhurst’s Frank Buck was a smoker who had diabetes and heart issues, but otherwise was healthy.

“He was living a happy life,” said his daughter, Christine Nolan.

However, he developed some difficulty breathing. In November 2007, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Buck was not a candidate for surgery to remove the tumor, but radiation and chemotherapy treatments worked and his quality of life improved.

“He fared well and was hopeful in the beginning,” his daughter said.

Sadly, though, he and his family learned in July 2008 that the tumor had metastasized to his brain.

After two weeks in hospice at home, Buck died. He was 65 and survived by his wife, Rita, and twin adult daughters Christine and Denise.

“She’s a rock,” Christine said of her mother. “She’s an amazing lady. She misses him every day. We’re all still hurting. He was a huge part of our lives.”

Soon after her father’s death, Christine Googled the words “lung cancer walk.”

“We felt like doing something to raise awareness and shift our grief,” she said.

The Buck family learned about the Pennsylvania Lung Cancer Partnership’s Free to Breathe campaign. The annual event began in 2006 and consists of a 5K run and walk, 1-mile walk and kids’ dash. It takes place on the first Sunday of each November.

The family has participated in the last four events and has raised $17,362 “and counting,” Nolan said. This year’s goal is $5,000.

The seventh annual event is set for this Sunday at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. The course starts outside the Please Touch Museum and takes participants past the Horticultural Center and Japanese Teahouse before ending at the museum.

Registration and check-in start at 7 a.m. At 8 a.m., there will be a rally and presentation of fund-raising awards. The run begins at 8:30, followed by the walkers and the kids’ dash.

The cost is $35, or $15 for children age 10 and younger. All proceeds benefit the Pennsylvania Lung Cancer Partnership’s research, education and awareness programs.

Last year, some 2,900 people took part.

“It grows exponentially every year,” said Nolan, whose employer, Merrill Lynch, aids the cause.

About 25 of Buck’s family and friends will be in attendance. They will be part of Team Big Daddy. That was his nickname.

“We walk to remember him and honor the people who suffer and fight this disease every day,” Nolan said. “It’s amazing. It feels good to fund-raise and be surrounded by supporters of our family.”

The day includes a disc jockey and an area for educational literature about lung cancer.

Nolan said one of the highlights is seeing the survivors in green T-shirts.

“It’s moving. It gives me chills,” she said.

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer each year takes the lives of more Pennsylvanians than breast, prostate, colon, liver and kidney cancers combined. Nearly 11,000 Pennsylvanians will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. Almost 8,000 will die this year of the disease.

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To make a donation, make checks payable to Free to Breathe and send to National Lung Cancer Partnership, Attn: Free to Breathe, 1 Point Place Suite 200, Madison, WI 53719. Write “Team Big Daddy” in the memo section. ••