This year the JPA Health team had the opportunity to plan, produce, film, edit and distribute a national public service announcement (PSA) that aims to educate people about the importance of comprehensive biomarker testing during a non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) diagnosis and subsequent treatment in support of LUNGevity Foundation. The PSA launched in November as a part of LUNGevity’s No One Missed campaign and tells the story of two people directly impacted by non-small cell lung cancer and comprehensive biomarker testing. This blog posts shares multimedia manager Michael Zhao’s experience meeting and filming their stories.
Getting to Know Your Talent
When you sit down with the talent behind your camera for a meal, you really get to know each other. You start talking about the “little” things in life—that’s when you know you are making friends. This is what we did this past summer while we were out on video shoots featuring Juanita and Jaymie—two people living with lung cancer.
Juanita from Indiana, and Jaymie from Georgia, are the stars in a PSA series highlighting their experience living with non-small cell lung cancer and with receiving comprehensive biomarker testing. Comprehensive biomarker testing can help identify mutations in a patient’s unique lung cancer and may help determine an appropriate treatment for that patient, including targeted therapies.
I was pumped to be a part of the JPA team supporting LUNGevity, working tirelessly for a few months to ensure that millions of homes in the U.S. have access to this essential information.
Meet Juanita Segura
Juanita Segura was diagnosed in November of 2014 and has been living with NSCLC for eight years.
Juanita got emotional on camera remembering the formidable challenge of how to best tell her children about her diagnosis. “[I wanted] to give them hope that Mom is going to be around to see them grow up—I promised them that.” I was sitting behind the cameras and crew, watching Juanita tear up as she spoke about the difficulties of her lung cancer diagnosis. I couldn’t help but relate to her as a parent. She is not a smoker, and neither am I, but her message is important: if you have lungs, you are at risk of getting lung cancer. I could not imagine how I would feel if I had to break that kind of news to my children, with looming terror that I might not see them grow up.
Juanita and her husband Steve were both shocked and devastated about Juanita’s diagnosis. Lung cancer brought a lot of anxiety and fear into their family. But her treatment journey wasn’t a straight line. When Steve found out about comprehensive biomarker testing through online research, they knew it would be a major step for Juanita’s treatment. Comprehensive biomarker testing found Juanita’s cancer tested positive for the ALK mutation, which can be treated with a targeted therapy.
Juanita says receiving this testing and finding the right treatment for her unique cancer has helped put her life back on track. Now with a dog and a couple of cats in the house, their home is as busy as ever. The cutest of all is their granddaughter, who is an absolute charm in front of cameras. Better yet, they are expecting another grandchild.
Meet Jaymie Bowles
The other star of the PSA is Jaymie Bowles, who was diagnosed with NSCLC in 2018. She was fearful about how uprooted her life might become after the diagnosis. As Jaymie sat with the news, she began to slowly open up to family and friends about her experience. She recognizes the profound impact that cancer treatment has on her life.
Unlike Juanita, Jaymie’s oncologist performed biomarker testing immediately after she was diagnosed, which found her cancer tested positive for the ALK mutation and can be treated with a targeted therapy. Now, Jaymie has been living with lung cancer for four years, she and her husband Frank, who is in the military, reside in Savannah, Georgia with their cat and dog. In her free time Jaymie loves to be with her family, play pool and participate in group fitness classes.
Advocating for Biomarker Testing
Jaymie and Juanita both took on new roles as advocates for comprehensive biomarker testing. They know that not everyone who is diagnosed with NSCLC knows about biomarker testing and want to emphasize it as a pivotal moment in their treatment journeys.
“Without biomarker testing, I wouldn’t be here talking to you today,” Juanita emphasizes. Juanita has been to Washington, D.C., to help organizations lobby for funding for lung cancer and takes every opportunity to educate newly diagnosed lung cancer patients about the importance of comprehensive biomarker testing. Jaymie is also a vocal advocate for the lung cancer community, often participating in live walks and events.
Now, Jaymie and Juanita are the stars of our PSA—and their stories have the potential to help millions of other people diagnosed with lung cancer. Thanks to comprehensive biomarker testing, NSCLC patients are being matched to the most appropriate treatment for their type of lung cancer. And thanks to Juanita and Jaymie, other people living with lung cancer will know about this important testing and the impact it can have on treatment decisions.