A stage four survival story.



Dr. Jay Avashia practices in Davenport and Lake Wales.

Judy McKenzie started smoking before the connection to lung cancer was known. As a nurse, she stopped smoking as soon as she learned about the evidence and, for many years, lived a healthy life. However, in 1999, Judy was diagnosed with Stage 4 Small Cell Lung Cancer that had spread to her liver and all of her lymph glands. “I was scared and didn’t know what to expect,” Judy shares. “Luckily, I was referred to Dr. Jay Avashia in Haines City, who I knew was highly respected as an oncologist.”

Dr. Avashia encouraged Judy, which gave her strength and determination. The trust she had in him brought her peace and a sense of control over her disease. “I was never sick – even during the most aggressive chemo treatments,” said Judy. “I was able to continue working and that gave me hope. Somehow, I just had the feeling that I was going to survive.” Now, in remission, Judy is a compelling example of the power of hope and science.

After nearly two decades of medical research, treatments continue to improve, newer targeted therapies are discovered, and people diagnosed with lung cancer have more options and a better outlook than ever before. The science is advancing rapidly and some treatments, such as immunotherapy, which uses your own immune system to fight cancer, are showing tremendous promise.

The physicians of Florida Cancer Specialists are committed to being involved in the latest research, in order to find new and better treatments for patients. This passion for medical discovery is making a big difference in the lives of cancer patients across the country. In 2016,  84% of new cancer drugs approved for use in the U.S. were studied in clinical trials conducted with Florida Cancer Specialists participation prior to approval.

Judy’s experience while undergoing chemo actually helped give her hope. “The nurses and staff made me feel like I had tremendous support; and many of the other patients became my friends,” said Judy. “As we shared our experience, we encouraged each other and that really helped me keep an optimistic attitude.”

Judy now sees Dr. Avashia once a year; she says it’s like visiting a longtime friend. “I was very lucky and I feel grateful for the wonderful care and support I received,” said Judy. “I would encourage others not to lose hope and to keep a positive outlook. You can survive Stage 4 cancer. I’m living proof of that.”


“I would encourage others not to lose hope and to keep a positive outlook. You can survive Stage 4 cancer.  I’m living proof of that.”

Judy M., Patient & Survivor — Davenport, FL

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