EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WJAR) — A local doctor is raising awareness about the number one cancer killer among men and women.
For 46-year-old Jen Cipriani, of East Greenwich, it’s personal.
Cipriani is a retired anesthesiologist who was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer almost two years ago. She was only 44-years-old at the time and was raising two small children.
“With lung cancer, everybody thinks, well it’s not going to happen to me,” said Cipriani.
“I do believe that early on with this cough I had just infections,” recalled Cipriani. “I was getting sick for whatever reason, what I used to refer to as bad lungs.”
Matt, her husband of 15 years, noticed it, too.
“People kind of, they see you everyday function absolutely fine and the assumption just is, ‘Eh, you’re okay. It’s just a cough and you’re functioning fine’,” he said.
After all, Cipriani was a busy anesthesiologist in Winchester, Massachusetts. One day, during surgery, another doctor suggested she have an X-ray.
The results showed a mass, which pushed her to have more advanced scans done.
“I got the call from the surgeon and he was like, ‘Jen I don’t know how to tell you this, but there’s spots that are lighting up, all over your body’,” she said.
It turned out she had terminal lung cancer. It was that diagnosis that led her to leave her job and move back to Rhode Island with her husband and their two children, Jack and Charlotte.
“I do a lot of work with the schools now,” said Cipriani.
And she’s often found on her computer.
“Her job became finding out what’s out there,” said Matt.
The diagnosis led her to a new passion, advancing research and promoting education, early treatment and screening for lung cancer. She does it through her new organization, Project Breathing Hope.
For Cipriani, there is some good news, a promising treatment.
“The pill that I take every day is a targeted therapy, so it allows me to continue my life,” she said. “We’ve been spending time with the kids and taking vacations when we can.”
In their household, it’s one day at a time, and the treatment seems to be working.
“I am considered no evidence of disease, which is the best label they could give anyone in my situation,” said Cipriani.
The Cipriani’s share their story in hopes that people will notice little things like a persistent cough or anything else out of the norm and get it checked.