For teachers, colds are just part of the job. So when Jeanine Pucci, 43, developed a cough in the early fall of 2013, she assumed she caught something from one of her first graders.
“But the cough didn’t seem to be going away,” Pucci remembers.

After about two months of persistent coughing and urging from her friends, she finally went to a walk-in clinic where a chest X-ray revealed a mass on her lungs. A doctor at Memorial Sloan Kettering later told her she had stage IV lung cancer that had spread to her bone. The news, delivered just days before Thanksgiving, came as a shock in part because the cancer was so advanced, but also because Pucci was not a smoker.

“I was repulsed by [smoking] my whole life. I could not even look at an ashtray. I never even tried a cigarette,” she says. 

Not Just the ‘Smoker’s Disease’