Why Is Lung Cancer Awareness Not Important?
I've been surviving lung cancer for over 8 years now. I can't even begin to count the number of people, friends, that I've lost. And seeing the pain in the families they belong with. It's overwhelming. One can definitely become a victim of survivor's guilt. I know that I have and continue to be this way. It's something I can't overcome. But, for some reason society doesn't place much value in making the public aware that anyone can get lung cancer. Mainly because society doesn't know they need to.
Who is responsible for spreading awareness?
Who's responsible for making society aware? One would think it is the lung cancer organizations, but they seem to all have different missions and goals. The main cancer organization where Americans look to for information, the American Cancer Society, has not done a stellar job in the past of promoting the fact that research matters. They offered the Great American Smokeout during lung cancer awareness month in November. But how did this help with the message that research matters? It insinuates that smoking is the only way to get lung cancer.
So, did this help a large portion of people that acquire lung cancer? No, it didn't. The message being projected was that smoking alone causes lung cancer and therefore, you only get lung cancer if you smoke. That's what the awareness message they are sending out projected to me and many others in our society.
This is so dangerous. Many of us do not fit the criteria to be tested, yet we live with it for so long until it spreads.
I didn't have all the information when I was diagnosed
In my case, it was to the brain. Although I was coughing up blood and having constant headaches, none of my physicians suggested an MRI or any other additional tests. They would write me a script for asthma medicine and send me on my way.
I don't understand why they didn't want to get the root of my problem. They probably thought I was just seeking pain pills. And to be honest, I was. My head hurt so very bad that I was taking a Percocet every three hours on the dot. It was insane. My family thought I was addicted to pills as did the doctors. But the pain was unbearable. I thought I may have a brain tumor so that's how we found my lung cancer.
My mom took me to the hospital, they found a huge tumor. I was transferred to downtown Atlanta and they removed the tumor and biopsied it. It came back that the cancer came from the lung. But, I didn't fit the criteria for testing at all. Most cancer in the brain is secondary to another area making it stage 4.
The criteria as of now are for smokers and former smokers at a certain age and older. Once I began researching, I found out that you can get lung cancer from secondhand smoke, radon, air pollution, and genetics. I became insanely upset. How did I not know non-smokers can get lung cancer? Why wasn't the American Cancer Society making this more known? These are questions that I was going over in my head. That organization continues to ensure that smoking is the cause of lung cancer and if you don't smoke, you will be fine.
It's time to unit under one voice
Since this main organization is not making us aware, it falls back on us, lung cancer patients, to be the voice of change. Our voices united can change the American Cancer Society and make others more aware.
But, there is a problem I've noticed with this. Leaders of grassroots movements are not all-inclusive. They make the information known to the people that have already been diagnosed. Therefore, it's the patients, friends, and family contributing to funding. In order for us to let them know research matters, we have to become united and organized. As of now, I see too many chiefs and not enough advocates ready to work for that to happen.
The change must start with us and our voices. Otherwise, it's the definition of insanity. Preaching to the same lung cancer people all of the time, yet expecting different results.
Have you had biomarker testing done?