I am a Lung Cancer Survivor

BY DENISE HOGAN

Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, killing more women than breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer combined.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness month. Not many people know this and it often doesn’t receive press, except for the obituaries, but as a survivor I am very much aware of it. Lung cancer is a disease without a public advocate but I intend to change that.

Lung Cancer kills more people then colon, breast, pancreas, and prostate cancer’s combined and funding is the lowest of all cancers. Lung cancer has a survival rate of 15.9 percent and yes I am one of the 15.9

I am a lung cancer survivor (three Years) and when people hear this they are shocked that I am alive. It is an assumption that lung cancer patients die. That of course is a misconception, but unless we have a strong advocate, someone who can bring this awareness to the public, people will continue to believe that lung cancer patients don’t survive and patients will feel they have no chance. No one deserves cancer. And no one deserves the stigma that accompanies lung cancer. This is not a time to feel shame. This is a time when the patient needs support.

All any cancer patient wants to hear is that “You’re sorry and can they help you in any way”. Tobacco is an addiction and many people who started smoking in the 50’s and early 60’s were not aware of the dangerous consequences. Back then the C stood for “Cool” not cancer. Smokers are not stupid they are addicted to a highly dangerous product, which unfortunately is legal and when taken as directed can kill you. But make no mistake about it Lung cancer is no longer just a smoker’s disease. Every day 78 people, who never smoked, die from lung disease. If you have lungs you can get lung cancer.

NCI Research Funding per death in 2011 for lung and bronchus cancer was $1,178 with a survival rate of 15.9 percent. Breast cancer funding per death is $15,368 with a survival rate of 89.0%. If we do the math is becomes apparent that the more funding received the greater the survival rate. And we won’t increase funding until there are more survivors and without funding the number of survivors will not increase. That is why it is so important to have awareness and strong advocates. We need more survivors of lung cancer to help inspire and educate others so they don’t give up, so they seek medical attention, so our funding increases and we can someday have thousands walking for the lung cancer cure.

I hope this information, together with the resources I’ve listed below, will help more people better understand lung cancer, inspire them to do what’s in their power to reduce their risk, and lend their voices to be a part of the search for a cure.

LUNG CANCER RESOURCES FROM THE AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION:

Support for those diagnosed: Mylungcancersupport.org

Information about getting screening: lungcancerscreeingsaveslives.org

Help Quitting Smoking: QuitterinYou.org

The author is the Coalition Coordinator of POW’R Against Tobacco in White Plains, a program of the American Lung Association of the Northeast