UGA alumnus honors wife’s memory through lung cancer awareness efforts

Today’s guest blog is brought to you by alumnus Blake Varner (BBA ’06). Since losing his wife, Angela Varner (AB ’07), to lung cancer, Blake has dedicated his time to raising awareness and funds for lung cancer research.

One in 14 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You may be surprised to learn that anyone with lungs, regardless of age or smoking history, can get this disease. I’d have never guessed that my wife, Angela, who I met at UGA, would be one of them.

When Angela was diagnosed with cancer, she was an otherwise healthy 29-year-old and an avid tennis player (she played club tennis at UGA). We had no idea that she was sick until she went through testing after giving birth to our second child. What we originally thought was a bad case of bronchitis turned out to be lung cancer.

After four short months and one heck of a fight, we lost Angela to lung cancer last February.

Significant research advances in the past decade have led to better treatments and more options for patients. The earlier lung cancer is found, the more treatment options exist – and the more likely it is that the disease can be cured.

In honor of Angela, I’ve committed to raising awareness and funds for lung cancer research. One of the ways I’ll do this is by participating in the Atlanta Free to Breathe Run/Walk August 22. Free to Breathe is dedicated to doubling lung cancer survival by 2022.

I encourage the UGA community to get involved with a cause you are passionate about, and if you’re able, please consider supporting Free to Breathe. You can sign up for the Run/Walk event at as an individual or start a team. Additionally, come play in a memorial golf tournament for Angela on Friday, September 4, before UGA kicks off its football season. A portion of the proceeds will go to Free to Breathe.

Everyone at UGA is welcome to join my 5K team, Built Ange Tough, or participate in the golf tournament. Registration and additional information regarding the golf tournament can be found here. We’d love to have the Bulldog Nation join us in the fight against lung cancer.