My Lung Cancer Is In REMISSION! Targeted Therapy Is Working!

Celebrating a great PET Scan with Patti

(4-23-24) My PET scan shows that my Stage Four Lung Cancer is in REMISSION, which is defined as a “decrease or disappearance of signs of cancer.” I am ecstatic and feel as if my life has been given back to me.

Dr. Alexander Spira, my oncologist at Virginia Cancer Specialists, told Patti and me the good news yesterday, and we are overjoyed. He said my targeted therapy is working so well that the tumors in my right lung aren’t noticeable on my PET scan. This makes me wonder if I need to reconsider my journalistic skepticism about miracles. When my cancer was discovered in February by an ER doctor, it was suggested that I had six months to live.

The cancer is still there and it could emerge at any time, but it’s unlikely it will grow anytime soon while I continue taking Alecensa, a chemo-medication specifically designed to fight non-small-cell lung cancer that has spread. I will be taking 8 pills a day for life and every other month, undergoing scans and blood work.

Lung cancer happens when cells in the lung change (or mutate). Most often, this is because of exposure to dangerous chemicals that we breathe. But lung cancer can also happen in people with no known exposure to toxic substances. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells grow uncontrollably and cluster together to form a tumor, destroying healthy lung tissue around them. Symptoms usually do not appear until cancer cells spread to other parts of the body and prevent other organs from functioning properly. At this point, it is harder to treat lung cancer.

I have never smoked, but I spent a long time in prisons, jails and mental hospitals before smoking was banned in these institutions. In Russia, I lived with a couple who were avid smokers. I have no idea if it was second hand smoke or some other random chemical that I encountered or if it was exposure at all.

What I do know is that I am extremely lucky. My cancer was discovered before it had spread widely to my other organs. This was because I fell while hiking in December, breaking three ribs. This prompted me to visit a doctor because I was having trouble breathing and he discovered fluid in my lungs. It and blood tests indicated cancer.

Because the drug, Alecensa, is working so well, the plastic tube that was in my right lung to drain fluid is finally out.  I have side effects but they are minor.

I want to THANK all of you who expressed your concern, offered prayers, and encouraged me – often by sharing your own experiences dealing with cancer. I am overwhelmed by the kindness that was showed me.

Today was the first day that I have awakened and not felt dread about my future.

Having a life-threatening illness caused me to focus and re-center my life on what really is important to me. And that is a blessing. My children offered me hope and my grandchildren brightened my days by giving me sloppy kisses and much needed distractions! Patti urged me – to be kind, think well of others, live a life with no regrets, hold those you love close, and always eat dessert first.

It’s a beautiful Spring day here in Northern Virginia and I am grateful.



About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.