Dear Lung Cancer Patient
Dear Lung Cancer Patient,
I’m just writing to say, I’m sorry about the stigma. I know you wake up every day with a disease that is surrounded by a great deal of stigma and that you may often feel judged by friends, family, or even your care team. You are often asked, sometimes in a judgmental way, if you were a smoker. Maybe you never smoked a single cigarette in your life. You’ve eaten healthy, run 10 miles a day, take all your vitamins, and practice yoga. Or maybe you were a casual smoker for years who proudly quit 10 years ago after decades of strong suggestion from your doctor. Or maybe you were a 2 pack per day smoker for 30 years and you loved every drag of every single cigarette you smoked, and you have not wanted to quit even after your diagnosis.
No One Deserves Shame or Stigma
The point is-- it doesn’t matter. It does not matter if you have never held a cigarette in between your fingers or if one would fit into your fingers so naturally and make you feel whole again. Maybe you were a smoker, exposed to secondhand smoke, had asthma, or a genetic predisposition to cancer. It does not matter whether or not you smoked because, frankly, you do not deserve to feel shame for your cancer diagnosis at all, for absolutely any reason.
Dear lung cancer patient, I’m sorry for the stigma. I’m sorry that you don’t have brightly colored ribbons and clothing lines, parades of people cheering you on, and hundreds of organizations dedicated to helping find a cure for you. I’m sorry that a universal screening protocol has not been developed for your family and friends. I’m sorry that these issues, among others, may make it hard to breathe. And I’m sorry that cancer doesn’t fight fair.
We Are Here to Support you
Dear lung cancer patient, I’m sorry about the stigma, but I want you to know that I am here, that other individuals are here, to help you no matter what. That there are people here to support you that do not judge you, that are opening their hearts to you, to provide you care. There are people who are working to find a cure for you and others, who are working on developing better screening protocols, and raising money to support you throughout your treatment when it may be hard to do it on your own. There are people here trying to erase the stigma and provide a voice for you, with you.
A Hopeful Advocate
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?