Thursday, November 17, 2011

November - Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and while I didn't want to post lung cancer facts all month [because that would annoy even me], I thought I should take time to post the facts in one blog just to try to raise awareness about this cancer with a stigma.

My sister Barb noticed that advocacy has picked up since I was diagnosed a year ago and I think it has to do with the fact that it's becoming a world wide crisis. While it is a known fact that smoking causes cancer, in some countries like the U.S., smoking has decreased tremendously and people like me who have never smoked are getting lung cancer. This means that there are other factors that cause it and since this the most underfunded of all cancers in regards to research - both public and private - something needs to be done.

Here are some lung cancer facts:

· Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer for men and women in the USA – it kills more people than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney and melanoma cancers – COMBINED.
oLung cancer is the second leading cause of all deaths in the United States.
oLung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in every ethnic group.
oAbout 213,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year and more than 160,000 die from it.
· Lung cancer kills almost twice as many women as breast cancer and more than twice as many men as prostate cancer. Lung cancer surpassed breats cancer as the #1 killer of women in 1987. Twice as many women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.
· It remains the most under-researched and under-funded cancer, in spite of its tremendous impact on public health.
· Women who have never smoked appear to be at greater risk for developing lung cancer than men who have never smoked.
oOf never-smokers with lung cancer, women outnumber men three to one.
oOne in five women and one in twelve men diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.
oSignificant risk of lung cancer remains for 30 or more years after quitting smoking.
oNonsmoking-related causes of lung cancer include air pollution, radon gas, asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel, soot, tar, and other substances.
· A report last week estimated that 21,000 people annually die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon, which is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after tobacco use. About one in 15 homes have elevated radon levels, the report said.
· Lung cancer is the “black sheep” of cancers, and the only cancer where the victims are stigmatized and blamed for their disease.This is true despite the fact that an estimated 60% of new lung cancer diagnoses will be in non-smokers – a combination of former smokers, some who quit ten or twenty years ago, and people who have never smoked.

Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the world and we need to increase public sympathy for the disease, not just on behalf of the patients but also in order to secure vital funding for research into this truly awful disease. Whether they have smoked or not, no one deserves lung cancer.

I would definitely like to eliminate the stigma of lung cancer. When someone asks me what kind of cancer I have and I say lung cancer, in most cases I know exactly what they are thinking and whether they try to hide it or not, it's quite evident..."Did you smoke?" I do get sympathy because I never smoked, but I have found it doesn't one deserves lung cancer...or ANY cancer.

If you would like more information on lung cancer or cancer in general, check out some of these web sites. And thank you for letting me get up on my soap box for a day...I do appreciate it!
LUNG CANCER ALLIANCE                                      LUNGEVITY

STAND UP 2 CANCER                                              LIVESTRONG

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The Hope Warrior Sisters sponsored a Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Awareness Vigil tonight and this is what I shared as a lung cancer survivor. 

Since I was diagnosed with lung cancer in July, 2010, many people have told me that because of my strength, courage or positive attitude that I inspire them.  I realized, however, that no one has ever asked me what inspires me.  If anyone would have asked, the simple answer is YOU.  All of you in your own way have inspired me. 
What have you done to inspire me?
·       Those who send me emails to tell me what’s happening in their world because it’s not all about me.  Hearing about your lives makes me feel normal. 
·       Those who still send me cards to let me know they care and are thinking about me. 
·       Those who take me out to lunch, or make us a meal and bring it to our house, visit me, send me a text, call or write on my Facebook wall just to be let me know they care.
·       The kindness of strangers who let me go ahead of them in line or give me an extra 15% discount at the cash register because they’ve been where I am.
·        My family with their unwavering support and love, ready to do whatever they can to make my life easier.  Especially my husband, the best caregiver ever who makes me laugh when I need it most.  And my sisters, who are not only my best cheerleaders, but my chemo buddies and they put together wonderful events like this because they care.
·        All of the health care professionals in my life who have helped me heal my body, my mind and my soul. 
·        My oncologist and all of the nurses and aides at OH Care who have always been so helpful, kind and caring and they always have a smile and make me feel that I matter.
·        My therapist from Cancer Family Care who helps me through the emotional jungle of cancer and has helped me discover how to enjoy life and live in the moment.
·        My Guided Imagery coach who has helped me learn to relax and meditate and discover how powerful the mind can be over the body. 
·        The trainers at the TriHealth Cancer Exercise program who helped give me the energy and strength I need to face my daily battle.
·       And the other people I’ve met along my journey with cancer who all have their own stories of strength and survival that always inspires me to want to do more.
It’s all of YOU that inspire ME.  What you give to me, I give back to you.  I know you say I’ve touched your lives, but you have also touched mine which has helped me find the strength I need to continue on my journey and for that I thank you.