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Descanso Yogathon to raise funds for lung cancer group

March 02, 2011|By Sara Cardine, Special to the Valley Sun

Most people selectively remain in the dark about lung cancer until, by a twist of fate, they are forced to learn. For Stephanie Gatschet, that moment came in 2006, when her mother and best friend, Nancy, was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer.

“Now I know more about lung cancer than I ever thought I would know or hope to know,” said Gatschet, a 27-year-old Burbank resident and star of ABC’s daytime drama “All My Children.”

Gatschet’s mother pulled through treatment and today remains cancer free. So far, she’s beaten tremendous odds. A vast majority of lung cancer patients — nearly 85%—will die from the disease. Today, both mother and daughter are advocates who host events to raise awareness and funds in support of lung cancer. This month, that mission will come to La Cañada.

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Gatschet is organizing a “Free to Breathe” Yogathon to be held March 20 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Descanso Gardens, and she’s invited her “All My Children” co-star, Cameron Mathison, to join her. The event, which will raise funds for the National Lung Cancer Partnership, is looking for registrants as well as community sponsors.

Participants will perform 108 rounds of the “sun salutation,” a flowing series of yoga poses that change with each breath and are designed to warm and stretch the entire body.

Free to Breathe events, held nationwide, are designed to bring together lung cancer patients, survivors and family members who know or may have lost someone to lung cancer. Some events take the form of races, walks or golf events, but Gatschet saw yoga as the perfect activity for LA residents and in support of lung cancer awareness.

“It’s an appropriate activity because of the focus on the breath,” Gatschet said. “We just want people to breathe together. I think that’s beautiful and symbolic.”

All members of the community, including those unfamiliar with yoga, are encouraged to come out, partake in a yoga session in support of the cause or learn more about lung cancer, the deadliest form of cancer in both men and women.

The American Cancer Society predicted that in 2010, an estimated 222,520 Americans would be diagnosed with lung or bronchial cancer and as many as 157,300 men and women would die from it. Despite its association with smoking, about 10% to 15% of people living with lung cancer are not smokers or have never smoked.

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