Facing Lung Cancer Negative Beliefs

Aside from facing our own lung cancer, we are affected by the negative beliefs surrounding this disease. We hear and read them all the time. Most of them are too biased and totally way out. Patients and caregivers are bombarded especially at the onset of the diagnosis. Sometimes these put too much stress on the patient.

Lung cancer is only a "smokers' disease"

Society painted the picture that lung cancer is only caused by smoking. Since diagnosis, I have put myself to use my small voice to spreading that if you have lungs you can get lung cancer. Some specialists at the first meeting sometimes slip a question, “Have you smoked?”. When I was less educated about my illness, I was quite offended. But as I get to know my disease, I even educate people that it can also affect non-smokers.

A so-called self-inflicted disease

The first time you share your cancer journey some people would say things like you did not follow a good diet or you did not exercise. Likewise, you should have done that and this to prevent this cancer. You appreciate science once you learn more about lung cancer especially the role our genes play in its development. It feels empowering to be a survivor receiving a targeted therapy that shrinks main and secondary cancer cells. Thanks to lung cancer research I am alive.

Realities of smoking history

People quit smoking for many reasons. One may be due to it is getting expensive or to avoid lung cancer as a whole. But having a smoking history puts you even at a higher risk of getting lung cancer down the road. All the more you have to get screened. Early stages have more chances of living longer or getting the NED, or no evidence of disease.

As a never smoker I was totally shocked being diagnosed with an advanced stage of lung cancer. My days are numbered so they say. Thanks to research I am a recipient of a second-generation TKI, a Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor, that prolongs my life. After biomarker testing, they found out I am ALK-positive, a lung cancer type where mostly are never smokers. I have abnormal cells in my lungs but can be controlled by a TKI.

Lowest survival rate

Lung cancer research has come a long way but deaths caused by lung cancer have not stopped. There is targeted therapy, taken as pill form, which is on its third generation. There is also a newly approved treatment called immunotherapy, a checkpoint inhibitor. Just like other treatments, they are not cured but could give more time for patients with family and friends.

Navigating those negative beliefs

There are different ways to face the impact of these negative beliefs. We cancer patients can teach ourselves more about lung cancer risk and treatment. There are avenues where we can share our stories as often as we like. We can find our own support group locally and internationally.

Moreover, we can accept that lung cancer is a disease and not a punishment. Let us not forget as well to make sure we handle our emotions well and treat ourselves with kindness.

Have you experienced negative beliefs about lung cancer?

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