​​ Matt Hiznay

Photo by James Lang, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute

Matt Hiznay

Youngstown, Ohio
Stage IV ALK-positive lung cancer at age 24 in 2011

Today: Hiznay, 26, is pursuing a graduate degree in molecular medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, while undergoing maintenance chemotherapy treatment every three weeks. His career path was shaped, in part, by his experiences with a drug that has helped prolong his life. Xalkori (crizotinib), which is used to treat patients with ALK-positive lung tumors, was approved the same day Hiznay learned he had lung cancer. “I was on my deathbed and I qualified for this drug,” says Hiznay, who achieved remission two months after starting the drug in November 2011. Despite having a recurrence in May 2012, Hiznay’s latest scans in May were clean. He is looking forward to pursuing his studies, which he says, “will hopefully lead to treatments [that work] in the same manner in which my lung cancer was treated.” Hiznay and his fiancée, Ally Stojkoska, 25, are planning their wedding for next summer.

Diane Fowler

​Photo by Ray Gherardini

Diane Fowler

Cape Coral, Fla.
Stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma at age 52 in 2008, ductal carcinoma in situ (stage 0 breast cancer) at 56 in 2012

Today: When Fowler, 57, gets her annual CT scans, she closes her eyes and sees herself on her 32-foot sailboat, Windy City. Fowler feels most at peace when she is sailing with her husband, two stepchildren or grandchildren on the ocean. She especially gets a thrill from leading her sailboat racing crew. “I have always been a competitive person,” Fowler says. “The starts are really exciting and [so is] jockeying around for position. You have to turn off the engine at one point. Then, you feel the hum … and you feel like you are with God. It’s so beautiful.”

Roxann Merino

Photo by Ned Merino

Roxann Merino

The Villages, Fla.
Stage Ic clear cell ovarian cancer at age 58 in 2006

Today: Merino, 65, a retired occupational health manager at UPS Inc., fills her days with rounds of golf, performances in theater productions and aerobics classes. After moving to a retirement community that she likens to a Disney World for adults, Merino started an ovarian cancer support group and was its leader for three years. “I made a decision to try to put things in my rear-view mirror,” says Merino, who has been in remission since her initial surgery and chemotherapy treatment. “I still become a little anxious around the time of my checkups. But I make a conscious decision not to make cancer part of my day.”  

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