Four people hide behind birch trees.

Do You Ever Feel Shame?

Last updated: April 2020

Shout it from the rooftop! I have lung cancer! Can you hear me? That’s right, I have lung cancer.

Too many times I’ve caught myself not wanting to tell people what cancer I have because of the stigma and shame that is put on people with lung cancer.

I've felt embarrassment before

There was one time when someone asked where was my cancer. I hesitated not wanting to say lung cancer. I felt so bad being embarrassed to say that I have lung cancer. When I am scared to say it, I realize I am aiding the stigma. In order to be heard, we have to put the shame to rest. Lung cancer should not be treated any different from other cancers. We have a much higher mortality rate because we are not getting much-needed help. Cancer is cancer and they all stink, and they all need to be cured in my opinion.

Finally, I am to the point that I hold my head high and tell people not only that I have non-small cell lung cancer but I will go on and tell the statistics and that anyone can get lung cancer. Hey, do you have lungs? Yeah, you! Well, then you too can get lung cancer.

Surprised by feelings of shame

Hold on, wait a minute. I thought I was over the shame. Recently, I was filling out a relay for life form for my granddaughter's school and it had a list of cancer boxes to check. I looked as it listed them and at the next to last box was lung cancer and the last was other. I found myself unsure if I wanted to check that box. Why did I do that? I thought I was way past letting society make me feel my cancer is bad. I checked the box. I have to understand I don’t deserve lung cancer...no one deserves cancer.

Am I alone at feeling this way? Do others do the same as I have done? Am I wrong? These are questions I continue to ask myself. My goal is to learn from each of these experiences and hopefully become a more productive advocate.

Stigma will strengthen my voice

Stigma comes from ignorance and it is now my goal to educate others while learning myself. I am sure I'm not over the hesitant feelings I get when asked what cancer I have, but I will do my best for me as well as my fellow Lung Cancer family to hold my head high. I feel like when I hesitate I not only let myself down but I am letting down a whole world of lung cancer families. I will shout it from the rooftop! I have lung cancer and I need society to look at me to see I deserve to live. To look at all of the families that have been affected by lung cancer and see we all deserve a chance to have a long life.

I have lung cancer. I will not be shamed! I am in a fight and trying to win this game!

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