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Faye

1 year post diagnosis

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Diagnosed with stage 3 inoperable lung cancer September 2016. Treatment included radiation and chemotherapy. Finished radiation mid October and chemo December. Scans at the end of December showed only tiny amount of tumour left. Have had scans every 3 months and no further cancer in lungs or no metastasis to other areas. I am feeling really good except some issues from treatment but am very grateful for the results I have had to date. Has anyone else felt that people judge you or maybe I should say not as compassionate because it is lung cancer compared to other cancers? I am feeling this at times just wondering if others have felt judged because of being a smoker?

 

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Good morning, Faye.  There is an unfortunate and undeserved stigma around lung cancer.   When I tell people that I have it,  9 times out of 10 the response is "did you smoke". It shouldn't matter.  I usually take that opportunity to educate them by telling them that it only takes lungs to get lung cancer. 

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Thanks for the reply. I have never felt judged by my oncologists nor my immediate family. I have chosen to live by the motto I live for today as I don't know if I have tomorrow ( but neither does anyone else) and I can't change any bad choices I made in the past. 

 

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Feye,

Welcome here.

Judging me for smoking and lung cancer, you bet!  It still happens nearing 14 years of surviving non-small cell, squamous cell, lung cancer. I had a pneumonectomy (right lung removed) and surgical complications.  Consequently, my chest looks like I suffered a grievous combat wound. While cruising in May, a passenger noticed me getting out of the pool and asked, rather innocently, what happened.  After telling her lung cancer, she said : "smoker right?" And with that answer, she gave me a chastising look that only mothers seem capable of. 

I've thought about that episode often.  Many before have made the same assertion, thankfully, with a bit more tact.  But the "I deserve it; I gave it to myself" stigma has followed me around like a bad cloud since diagnosis.  It will likely be mentioned in my obituary! I'd like to say that I don't care anymore but that is not true.  My reason for caring has changed over the years. This stigma allows those in American society who make medical research funding decisions -- politicians and researchers -- to deliberately under allocate resources to diagnose and treat my disease. That makes me livid! I hope things are different in Canada.

For example, this year, the American National Institute of Health has programmed $3 billion to fund HIV/AIDs research. Lung cancer research barely survives at $360 million.  Both can be categorized as largely self-induced but to show you how powerful the lung cancer stigma is, consider HIV/AIDs is projected to kill only 8,300 Americans while lung cancer deaths are estimated at 163,199! So lung cancer kills about 20 times more than HIV/AIDs but has only 12-percent of the funding.  That works out to $2,200 of research per lung cancer death. Here is the data from the NIH.

Many are working to stamp out this stigma.  LUNGevity has been a change advocate for years as have other well meaning individuals and organizations. But, the unfair funding allocations keep rolling out, year-after-year. It does only take lungs to get lung cancer, but the smoking stigma turns a horrible disease into unwarranted shaming and outright discrimination.

On a brighter note, it sounds like your treatment was successful.  I was in the scan every 3 months club for quite awhile.  Let's hope your stay is a brief one.

Stay the course.

Tom 

 

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Faye,

Tom and Susan are right. No one deserves cancer. And anyone with lung cancer deserves to be treated with compassion, not callousness. LCSC is a place where you can find support and understanding.

At LUNGevity, we are working very hard to end the stigma and help secure an investment in research that matches the impact of this terrible disease. Thank you for sharing your story and being part of this community.

We are here for you.

Lauren
--
Digital Community Manager
LUNGevity Foundation

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