Frank Sinatra’s unforgettable music is offering high hopes in fighting lung cancer as ‘Upstage Lung Cancer’ presents ‘High Hopes: Celebrating Sinatra’s Centennial’ on Tuesday, November 10 celebrating what would have been Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday. In light of lung cancer awareness month, this wonderful benefit offers an evening of live performances as award-winning Arts and Entertainment critic Joyce Kulhawik returns to host at the Lyric Stage in Boston, Massachusetts.
An exciting evening of dancing, silent auction, and a wine and dessert reception, ‘Upstage Lung Cancer’s’ annual benefit dedicates its proceeds to fund lung cancer research. Click here for tickets and visit upstagelungcancer.org for more information! Lung cancer survivor, singer, and President of the award-winning, nonprofit organization ‘Upstage Lung Cancer,’ Hildy Grossman talks about the start of her organization, lung cancer, and the big show.
Examiner: I understand the inspiration to start an organization to fight lung cancer stemmed from a fall on the basement stairs. What I find so fascinating about that story is you went to get tested for a sore arm and the diagnosis ended up being lung cancer. It must have been shocking – a seemingly unrelated issue leading to that type of diagnosis.
Hildy Grossman: Yes. Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer and 84% of people diagnosed will not live 5 years. I am thankful and lucky. Sadly, most people diagnosed at the earliest stage find it by accident because there are no symptoms.
Examiner: Also, you were diagnosed early and did not exhibit the early signs of lung cancer. What are the best steps a person can take for early detection and prevention?
HG: Right now there are no consistent tests for early detection of lung cancer. If there are any symptoms at all such as shortness of breath or cough, it is wise to talk with your doctor, especially if there is a family history.
Most people don’t realize that over 60% of newly diagnosed people either never smoked or quit many years ago. However, if you have been a long time heavy smoker, there is hopeful news using low dose CT scan for early diagnosis. This year and last, we have supported research on a test looking at bio-markers in saliva to accompany the CT scan to improve early detection.
Examiner: Now, you are a singer and came up with the idea to integrate musical theatre into a yearly fundraising event. Your first event I understand took place in a private home in 2008. What kinds of surprises did you run into the first year? How do you think it has been perfected each year since?
HG: The first year, the surprise was to see what an amazing event a house concert was. We had a group of about 50 people in someone’s home. We had a medical speaker and a concert with reception. Frankly, that format has been wonderful! It was a great way for people to learn more about lung cancer, ask questions, and share a great concert as well. We continue to do these concerts and plan one in NYC in late spring.
Examiner: You have some big names returning to the stage this year! ‘Upstage Lung Cancer: High Hopes: Celebrating Sinatra’s Centennial’ featuring returning talent to the stage such as Joyce Kulhawik, Scott Wahle, Paula Markowitz, Leigh Barrett, and, John F. King, and Brian De Lorenzo. The evening will also present Francine Jacobsen MD MPH with the 2015 Fan Award. You will also be performing! How does the process work in finding the talent for the show each year?
HG: We have almost become a company with the dedication and camaraderie we have developed among ourselves. It shows in the performance! We love and appreciate one another and it is a joy and honor to get to work together.
Examiner: That’s wonderful! You’ve had some great success with the ‘Upstage Lung Cancer’ fundraisers over the years. What was your biggest hope for starting this organization and has that hope evolved or changed over the years?
HG: My hope is to be out of the non-profit world as soon as possible because that will mean we have a cure for lung cancer!
Examiner: What do you think is the best reason people should attend on Tuesday, November 10?
HG: First, to have a great time and celebrate life and secondly, to know you are joining us in our efforts to save lives. What could be better?
Examiner: Are you still looking for volunteers or auction items for the event? How can one make a contribution?
HG: We are open at this time for volunteers. Click here for donations, auction bidding and tickets. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Tickets are also available at the box office.
‘High Hopes: Celebrating Sinatra’s Centennial’ will start with the silent auction at 6:30 p.m. Featuring Frank Sinatra’s greatest hits, this benefit returns to Lyric Stage, 140 Clarendon Street in Boston, Massachusetts.