Daughter Who Lost Mom to Lung Cancer Works to Honor Her

Michele Cook is involved in raising money for lung cancer research to honor her mother, Patricia Hutterer, who died of the disease in July 2013.

Michele Cook (in black) with her mother Patricia Hutterer.
Michele Cook (in black) with her mother Patricia Hutterer.
Michele Cook's mother, Patricia Hutterer, didn't smoke. She wasn't fat. She was active and in good shape, having spent 30 years as a special education teacher before retiring with her mother and husband to Chicamauga in 2007.

So when she began coughing, her doctor assumed it was some kind of respiratory illness, maybe a severe cold. Or bronchitis. And yes, the doctor said, she was having acid reflux.

As things turned out, that initial diagnosis was wrong.: instead of bronchitis, Patricia, at 68, had stage 4 lung cancer. Rather than roll over and die, said her daughter, she read up on the disease and grilled her doctors about options. She researched Sloan Kettering, Vanderbilt and Emory.  

Michele says her mom didn't respond well to the treatments. On July 27, 2013, her mother died. She had been diagnosed in January 2012.

To honor her mother, Michele has gotten involved in the Free To Breathe Athens 5K Run at Sandy Creek Park this Saturday. She joins organizers Donna Boggs, Tiffany Hudak and Julie Miller, all of whom have lost family members to lung cancer.

"They understand, and that's very comforting," said Michele, a teacher in the Oconee County schools. She's been in the county since 2003. "I'm going to be involved with this for a long time."

Lung cancer kills more people in Georgia than do breast, colon or prostate cancer combined. But And the research funding given by the National Cancer Institute is a pittance, only $1,600 per lung cancer death. For a breast cancer death, that number is $14,000. 

"All of the money we raise goes to research," Michele says. "I really want to raise awareness about the disease."

For more information about the race, click here.


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