November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month!
Why is Lung Cancer Awareness Month (LCAM) important? Well, not everyone in the general public realizes that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. When I was first diagnosed at age 47 with stage IV lung cancer, I was part of that clueless group myself. I knew to get mammograms, Pap smears, and a colonoscopy at 50 -- but unlike other potential cancers, I knew relatively little about lung cancer.
People need to know about lung cancer
People everywhere need to know that lung cancer is the number one cancer killer and we need more research funding to save lives. While many of us in the lung cancer community advocate all year round to educate the public about this, November is the month that EVERYONE should come together. While not all lung cancer is the same, we all have many of the same barriers to overcome and milestones to accomplish. Only by working together can we make true progress in awareness; we are stronger together and can have a louder voice to make more of an impact.
What can we do this awareness month?
What should everyone do during LCAM? Given the pandemic, all efforts to drive awareness this year will need to be done virtually. Let’s try to take over social media for the month of November by posting information and stories related to lung cancer every day. Share using your favorite social media channel — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. — and please make sure to use the hashtag #LCAM!
Fact based information
There are a number of excellent sources for statistics related to lung cancer prevalence and funding needs. Many of the major advocacy organizations have fact sheets with infographics that can be downloaded and shared. Here are some suggestions:
Stories of hope
Many people identify more closely with personal stories about lung cancer as opposed to the cold, hard facts. If you are comfortable, share your own story or a story of a friend or loved one who is living with lung cancer. You can even add your story to the official Lung Cancer Awareness Month site to be shared by others. Although lung cancer is still not a chronic, manageable disease, storytelling about the power of research to improve lives can be very attention-grabbing. Here are a few sources for lung cancer stories:
- LUNGevity Foundation
- GO2 Foundation
- Lung Cancer Foundation of America (LCFA)
- Lung Cancer Research Foundation (LCRF)
Stories with name recognition
It would be fantastic for lung cancer awareness if a well-known celebrity or politician would step forward to advocate by sharing first-hand information about his or her own lung cancer experience or journey of a loved one. While we are waiting this to happen, we can share these stories ourselves, as people frequently pay more attention to articles with well-known names. Here are a few suggestions:
Memorials and remembering our loved ones
Although of course very sad, sharing stories about people you know personally who have passed away due to lung cancer can be very powerful and reinforce the message that anyone can get lung cancer.
This year, I plan to use a combination of all of the above sources to raise awareness about lung cancer through daily Facebook posts. I hope you all join me!
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?