It was five years ago this March that Dr. Deborah Morosini says her sister, Dana Reeve, died of lung cancer.
"She had a very, very mild cough and she went in and had stage four lung cancer," she says. "It was really almost inconceivable. I'm a doctor, my dad's a doctor and my grandfather's a doctor -- and all of us thought well this can't be.
Dana Reeve's death occurred just under a year after her husband, the late actor Christopher Reeve, passed away.
Morosini, a pathologist, says Dana's death inspired her to become an advocate for lung cancer research.
"It was very sobering and it really pulled me to do this," she says. "I was very close to my sister and Dana did not live long enough to do anything about this. I really am honoring her memory by doing it."
On Thursday, Morosini spoke with the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition and Phoebe's Cancer Center in a seminar called "Out of the Shadows... Women and Lung Cancer."
"Dr. Morosini is well known nationally. She's an expert in lung cancer particularly in women with lung cancer," says Diane Fletcher, CEO of the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition. "Part of the work of the cancer coalition is to bring opportunities for local health care professionals to be able to have access to this type of information without having to leave the area."
Health professionals learned the gender differences of lung cancer screening and treatment as well as clinical characteristics of lung cancer.
"I want to drive across to them that this is an area that they need to keep their eye on, it's a moving target, it's an area where there have been some really exciting breakthroughs in the last year," says Morosini.
One of those breakthroughs, she says, includes research that shows CT scans show a 20 percent reduction in mortality compared to chest scans.
"In being a radiation oncologist, I've certainly seen too many lung cancers. It's always a very sad disease unless we catch it really early," says Dr. Lane Mathis Price with Phoebe.
Morosini discussed, among other topics, the gender differences with lung cancer. She says more research is being done to find differences between men and women regarding genetic, hormonal and environmental factors to help determine effective prevention measures. She says questions they are asking include "Do women have more exposure to cleaning products?" and "Do men and women breathe differently?"
She says lung cancer claims more lives than breast and gynecological cancers combined. On top of that, Morosini says, lung cancer deaths are on the rise because other cancers receive more support and therefore more research which leads to them being more survivable.
Morosini says she wants to do her part to help with research and funding for lung cancer screening and early detection, all while paying tribute to her sister. She says her sister sends her signs to let Morosini know that she's proud.
"My sister is really on board with this and my sister provides a lot of signs for me and I get a lot of humor from my sister and a lot of encouragement," she says.
The Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition says they will have Morosini's full lecture and discussion on their website very soon.