November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month
Everyone knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but we keep the fact that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month a better secret. Unfortunately, the flood of pink will not be replaced by a flood of white (the color assigned to lung cancer) on November 1.
But, we can all do our small part in helping raise awareness about and funding for lung cancer during November (and throughout the year). It is important that we get the word out about this deadly disease. Lives are depending on it!
I'm going to kick it off by giving you a few facts and myths that you can share with your family, friends, and colleagues.
Lung cancer facts
- In the U.S., lung cancer kills more people than the next three deadliest cancers combined (colorectal, pancreatic, and breast). It accounts for 25% of all cancer deaths.1
- Lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer every year. In fact, it kills nearly twice as many women as breast cancer.1 So why isn't there the same outrage; the same amount of fundraising for this deadly disease as there is for breast cancer?
- Every single day, 641 Americans will find out they have lung cancer.1
- In 2015, there were an estimated 541,035 men and women living with lung and bronchus cancer in the United States.2 Contrast that with the fact that there were an estimated 3,418,124 women living with breast cancer in the United States in 2015.3 This helps explain why the breast cancer voice is so much louder than the voice of lung cancer. The number of those of us who are lung cancer survivors is dwarfed by those surviving with breast cancer.
Myths and misconceptions
- Smoking is not the single cause of lung cancer. It is still "credited" with being responsible for 80% of lung cancer cases among women, but the reality is that all it takes to get lung cancer is a set of lungs.4 No one is immune to lung cancer.
- A lung cancer diagnosis is not an automatic death sentence. Over 18% of those diagnosed with lung cancer live at least five years after diagnosis.1 The number of people who are living with lung cancer as a chronic disease is increasing with the advent of targeted therapy and immunotherapy treatments.
- While lung cancer still strikes more people age 65 or older, over 30% of those diagnosed are younger.1
Get involved by...
During November (and throughout the year), any number of fundraising events can be found all over the United States. Take a look at Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, LUNGevity, Free to Breathe, and Lung Cancer Alliance to see what events they're holding. The American Lung Association also holds events, but be aware that their fundraising benefits all lung-related issues, not just lung cancer.
Sharing on soical media
During awareness month, post facts about lung cancer on your social media pages. I try to post a fact every day on Facebook. I want all of my friends and their friends to be aware that lung cancer strikes young and old, men and women, smokers and non-smokers. Throughout the year, I post articles and memes and anything else I come across to keep the fact that lung cancer is non-discriminatory in the forefront of everyone's minds. (I believe that too many younger nonsmokers have a false sense of security.)
Writing to your legislators
Write to your legislators and let them know how important it is to fund lung cancer research. For some reason, they seem to ignore the fact that this disease kills more Americans than any other cancer. Perhaps if we tell them that lung cancer deaths cost $39 billion in lost productivity, 27% of the total cost of lost productivity for all cancers, they'll start to listen.5
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?