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The Stigma

The Stigma

I know, we’ve all heard about the stigma of lung cancer. All you need is lungs to get lung cancer is our motto! We tell it to everyone we can so they understand the truth! But what happens when the stigma just hits too close to home? I see friends, family, and associates posting on Facebook fundraising for all diseases, cancers included, and they receive thousands and thousands of dollars in donations! So, why am I having a hard time raising a small $1,000 for a local 5k run here at home?

We All Know the Stigma…

When I was diagnosed, one of the first thoughts that ran through my head was, “I did this to myself“. As a former smoker, I was disheartened, I was literally sick to my stomach that I caused this. Then my Oncologist stated, there is something driving your cancer, this was not caused by your limited smoking history. In the end, yes, my cancer was driven by the EGFR genetic mutation. At that time I knew nothing about lung cancer. My grandfather had passed in 2000 after a very short fight with this disease as chemo was too hard for him due to a heart condition. Now that I have this disease, and I am doing everything I can to get educated on it, I am feeling defeated when it comes to fundraising. The only answer I can come up with when I try to figure out why I have such a hard time getting donations (besides my crappy skills at being a saleswoman) is the stigma.  If you are not educated on lung cancer, from the outside, this disease is thought of as a self-induced, therefore we aren’t good enough to get donations?

Is Stigma Stopping Donations?

I have friends fighting other cancers. I have friends who have donation pages for other reasons, illnesses, car accidents, any reason that life really just throws something at you and you can’t handle the financials of it all. These individuals are raising tons of money! I can’t even cross the $1,000 barrier for lung cancer research. I feel sometimes like yelling at the top of a mountain with a Megaphone about all of of the statistics of lung cancer, how underfunded we are and how we are the top leading cancer killer. I post these facts on social media to get others to become educated, aware. Evidently, I’m not making that much of a difference and I need another way to bring awareness to this disease. I just find it pretty crappy that I’m pretty sure that my lack of donations is due to the stigma around this disease.

On the other hand, is it my friends? Is it because we are all working families that sometimes have a hard time making ends meet, therefore they can’t afford to donate? What about those individuals (family included) that I know make way more money than most people I know, but still won’t donate? What is the reasoning there? How do I fix this? This has become something that stresses me out because I want to do more, but I feel as though the stigma is limiting what I can actually do for this disease.

Let’s Make the Invisible Visible

I’ve thought about a grassroots movement, bring all of the Survivors together in each major city and bombard our “downtown” areas with Lung Cancer Survivors. Engaging with normal people walking down the street to work, or lunch and asking them what do they know about lung cancer? Asking them if they think any of us have lung cancer? What about identifying any of us that may have terminal lung cancer! Is that how we get attention? Do we have to be in the public eye’s face all of the time? How do we do that?  These are all questions I am asking myself, you the reader, and the public. What do we have to do to make a difference, because right now I am not feeling like I am making enough of a difference!

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.


  • Jeffrey Poehlmann moderator
    2 years ago

    On the second anniversary of my diagnosis, my mother had organized a fundraising walk in a small town. She got a lot of local support for a first-time event, and we had both the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association on board as sponsors. At the end of the event, with almost no investment outside of time, we had managed to raise a bit over $6k. That seemed like a terribly small amount at first, but both the ACS and the ALA said it was about twice what they had expected for a first-time event. This year, a “second annual” version of the walk is happening and expectations are high that it will at least double the amount raised. It takes a lot of effort to overcome the stigma, however; we began every ask with a story about how preconceptions of the disease are wrong, but it isn’t easy.

    Thank you for your hard work and for keeping the effort up. The more we speak out, the easier it will become to change the narrative and remove the stigma.

  • thesenora
    2 years ago

    You are making a difference within our support group…that I can say…
    As far as outside people?…there are those that donate right away…there are those that wait until the event gets closer…and, there are those that they need to be continually reminded a few times…BUT,
    for those that don’t care to donate don’t do so for various reasons…who are we to question their reasons…
    I do expect my closest family members and friends to help me with the cause…blast on FB, email, or, simply individually text them with the link and a small personal message…
    We can not control the actions of others…we know who cares for us and our well being…wasting time in those that can’t find a few minutes to donate or text messages of encouragement is time never gotten back…not easy…but, screw them…
    The FMC (Fort Myers Crew) is putting on our first lungevity Breathe Deep event on November 4…it is amazing how giving people can be with donations, sponsorships, volunteers…don’t waste time with the negative…nothing you did caused this disease…nor do I deserve it…I am here for you whenever you need a hug or an ear to speak into…
    Love you, Nicole..

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