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Lung Cancer and an Evolving World View

It is almost impossible to conceive of how a lung cancer diagnosis could not change a patient’s worldview. After all, the ramifications of lung cancer touch every aspect of a patient’s life. A diagnosis upends any sense of normal, forcing a re-evaluation of virtually everything.

Lung cancer advocacy is a political act

To suggest that being a lung cancer patient is non-political is like denying that the Earth is basically a sphere. We can ignore the political aspects of lung cancer as much as we like, but that does not change the fact that the politics of stigma affect each and every patient directly. More and more advocate voices are arising within the lung cancer community, calling for equitable research funding and an end to victim blaming.

Raising these issues is more than merely a social act. It is truly a political imperative, brought to the fore by groups that directly lobby with the government on multiple levels. This work crosses over traditional boundaries of Conservative vs Liberal, and certainly ignores party lines, but is no less a progressive political act.

Time to look at the big picture

And being an active lung cancer patient may well open one’s eyes to the globally connected world that we live in. Clinical trials are conducted internationally these days, with data shared throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, right alongside North and South America. Getting the number of patients necessary to conduct an extensive trial on many of the newer, targeted drugs is only possible with global cooperation and data sharing. To be a modern lung cancer patient is to be an advocate for global brother and sister-hood because that is the way our lives are being saved.

At home, lung cancer patients find themselves at the receiving end of multiple stigmas. This ought to induce a new social awareness in each of us, finding more tolerance of others if, for no other reason than that we have experienced first-hand the undeserved accusations and blame for our conditions. Many patients find it their duty to speak out for the rights of others, to join hands in solidarity with groups for which they previously felt none.

Hitting the reset button

Not every lung cancer patient will share the same wake-up calls. Some of us even narrow our worldview and hide. We are all individuals and there is no singularly right way to proceed. But there is something liberating about getting a diagnosis that changes everything about your life because it allows you to do that rare and joyful thing: hitting the reset button.

Many of us find that we have been locked into a particular worldview since childhood, often handed to us rather than discovered. And even when we did develop one on our own, it was from a particular set of (often premeditated) experiences. But the world is a complex place, with unlimited views that remain valid. And through this diagnosis, we have been gifted a shove to re-evaluate everything that we thought we knew, everything that we took for granted.

Finding purpose from a new perspective

It is not the type of gift that anyone wants to receive. It is not a happy diagnosis. But embracing the opportunity can bring some light into an otherwise dark situation. It can offer perspective and purpose that can drive a patient’s life forward. I am who and what I am today largely because of my lung cancer. I see the world through a new filter that was not accessible to me before. And for the most part, I truly believe that this filter helps me to see more clearly than ever.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on October 21, 2018, Jeffrey Poehlmann passed away. Jeffrey’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. He will be deeply missed.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.