James Hiter is the father of two adult children and a foster daughter. He and his wife Emily and their family live in Virginia. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016. James is the founder of Streak for a Cure, an organization with a mission to increase funding for lung cancer research by changing attitudes and beliefs about the disease. James is a streak runner. Streak running is running every day without missing a day. James has run every day since July 15, 2017, through more than 20 rounds of chemotherapy.
What was the biggest unexpected change in your life after your diagnosis?
The decision to leave my high-stress job, which entailed 60-70 hours per week and 80% travel was a significant unexpected change. While the decision to leave a 25-year career as a financial services executive was difficult, it was the right one for my family and me. I hadn’t anticipated the amount of rest and recovery time that would be necessary with ongoing chemo and immunotherapy treatments every three weeks. The biggest intangible change impacted how I prioritized my life, attitude and activities. We have done more lung cancer advocacy, welcomed a 17-year old foster daughter into our home and spent more time with family.
If you could give any advice or words of wisdom to a newly diagnosed patient, what would it be?
There is so much you can’t control. So, you must control what you can and be accepting of the rest. For me, this has involved a commitment to a positive attitude and running every day, even when I feel bad. No matter what, I try to keep smiling and complete a daily run/jog. Physically moving and being upbeat have been essential to my mental and physical health.
What gives you hope?
I derive hope from two primary sources: first is my faith. This faith reminds me that even when I don’t fully understand why things are happening--ultimately, good can be the result. For example, if not for my cancer treatments and transition at work, we would not have the time to dedicate to fostering. This is how something negative has been used for good. The common denominator of so many positive survivor stories is a strong faith. In the face of adversity, faith can keep you strong. Second are my friends and family. The people around me, especially other survivors, are a tremendous source of hope. These people provide me love and a tremendous reason to keep fighting!
LUNGevity Spotlight is a way to highlight people living with lung cancer, caregivers, volunteers, and fundraisers who are making a positive impact in the LUNGevity community. We hope that their stories will inspire and encourage many more to get involved.
If you know someone in the LUNGevity community whom you'd like us to Spotlight, please nominate them here.