Lung cancer survivor vows to help others stay alive

Lung cancer survivor, Kathleen Skambis, does not take life for granted after beating the disease and vows to fight for those not able to.

Kathleen Skambis is a problem solver. She is a commercial trial and appellate lawyer here in Orlando. “I’m overly, passionately interested about making a difference in the world,” Skambis said.

However, about 19 years ago, Skambis faced one of life’s greatest challenges — lung cancer. “I had the flu. I had forgotten to get the flu shot, and it lingered.” Skambis decided to get a chest X-ray. “The doctor called me that same night because there was a thing the size of a golf ball in my right lung,”Skambis said.

The news came as a surprise to all — including her doctors. Skambis has always led a healthy and active life without any history of smoking.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one in 16 people in the United States will get lung cancer. It kills more people than any other type of cancer.

After various surgeries and chemotherapy, Skambis has triumphantly graduated to yearly checks and has learned from this experience. “You realize how lucky you are, and you really do feel as though you have an obligation to carry it on,” she said.

Skambis began volunteering for the American Lung Association in 2007. ALA is an organization dedicated to improving lung health and preventing lung disease. “Nobody ever talked about lung cancer. You know, it was just pink everything,” she said.

And so, Skambis made it a point to create a support group for those affected by lung cancer.

Her advice for victims of lung cancer is to always get a second opinion and to take life one day at a time.

However, she also advises everyone: “Talk to your doctor about getting screened. Early screenings save lives — and get your house tested for radon.”

Skambis said: “Life is finite. We’re all going to go. Whatever difference you want to make, whatever you want to do — don’t put it off too long.”

Kathleen Skambis invites you to attend ALA’s fundraiser March 7 at 6:30 p.m. in Downtown’s Sak Comedy Lab. A few College Park residents have volunteered to perform a lip-syncing battle for the audience. Admission is $35, and the proceeds go to the American Lung Association for their programs and research on every kind of lung disease — including early detection techniques.

For those who can’t attend in March, there will also be a 5k opportunity May 9 for anyone affected by lung cancer. For more information on the fundraiser, visit For more information on preventive screenings, visit

Kathleen Skambis with friend, Lisa Dukes, who lost her battle with lung cancer.

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