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question for the never smokers who have/had cancer diagnosis

Laura Ann

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I wasn't.

I grew up in a non-smoking house, with never-smoking parents. I had no friends who smoked in high school and the only smoker I ever dated, was a brief relationship I had about 2 years prior to diagnoses.

No smoking history in my background...however -- my best friend throughout my 20's was a "social smoker", who only smoked when she drank. We used to go to weekly happy hours and I'd sit at the bar for hours with a cloud of smoke lingering overhead.

Enough second hand smoke to cause lung cancer? Who knows. My cancer could have been caused by a million contributing factors (second hand smoke, diet, intense stress, acrylic nail fumes from a 2-year salon stint, etc.).

Bottom line is, I may never know what caused my lung cancer, and I don't dwell on it.

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Smoke is truly not the only reason for a lung cancer diagnosis. There are many cases diagnosed which are unrelated to tobacco, even second hand. Several doctors have proposed theories including a viral cause for mine somewhere down in the family tree (related to a sheep virus), a genetic anomoly, and scar tissue combining with other problems leading to BAC. Other lung cancers have been related to asbestos, agent orange, viral exposure, scarring, radon, and of course tobacco exposure, first hand or otherwise.

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I posted this question for my sister. She is concerned because our mother smoked the whole time we were growing up including the time she was pregnant. I know about all the risks, and that there is no one cause for lung cancer. I also know that there is a lot written about second hand smoke. I am not asking anyone to say that they got their cancer from second hand smoke, I was just curious about the members(never smoker) on this board's history. Obviously there are too few here, to even establish a correlation. It was just a question.

My sister knows I use this board for information and she ask me to post the question....nothing more, nothing less.



If you have seen any of my past post you will see that I have never been a fan of the "blame game".

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No, but you have been here long enough to know this is a touchie subject for most members. We try not to discuss these issues if at all possible. I myself could care less if I was around smoke or not.

I got what I got and I have to live and deal with it.

I would rather we work on the Support issue rather then grill people about smoking issues. But, that's my opinion and it's only worth something to me.

Has your sister considered looking into this question on the NCI website? They might have all the facts she is looking for. Just a thought!

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Honestly Laura Ann,

Your sister clearly has several risk factors that are greater than that of the general public. I understand her fears. Because of our lack of funding and research it is impossible to isolate why MOST smokers never get lc and some nonsmokers do get it - even with all of the genetic, viral, and exposure issues listed above. My oncologist recommends screening for first degree relatives of lc patients with or without tobacco exposure. There are just too many variables and not enough research to get a black and white answer.

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Laura, I was. My dad smoked when I was little, and one day just gave it up - no warning, no weeks of stewing about quitting, he just quit! My brother (19 yrs older than I) and his wife both smoked, she during 2 pregnancies, and 1 of her daughters smoked for a long time -- they have all since quit. So far, I'm the only one with cancer. My dad had circulatory problems and was a doctor, so gave up the cigs. (Contrary to popular belief, the medical establishment did know many of the dangers of smoking "way back when.")

My mother lived with all this too, and will turn 92 in a few weeks. Go figure.


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Just because I have my asbestos underwear on, I'm going to tread this way...(oops, asbestos, not good)

I believe it's a legitimate question, and I'm going to answer it.

My father smoked. My father was a shift-worker, so the only time I was REALLY exposed to heavy smoke was in the car with the windows up. How often did that happen? Well, it was before A/C was too popular in a car so we drove with the windows down a lot...

My friends in high school were non-smokers. I dated non-smokers and my first husband was a non-smoker although both of his parents smoked. My current husband is a non-smoker. His kids smoke, but not in my house and not around me (here's another reason I don't think LC money should be spent to keep teens from smoking - these kids visited me after my surgery and know they are ten times more likely than I was to end up with the same problem and they're puffing away - their grandmother died of LC - no relation to me).

When I was in college, I hung around "the Club" - lots of smoke in there. Prior to my diagnosis, my husband and I frequented a bar with live bands and a dance floor - and all the smoke you could breathe.

My cancer truly could have been caused by secondhand smoke - and I'm not blaming my father here. I exposed myself to that crap, as well. Now I avoid it any time I can (and if any guy ever blew smoke in my face in a bar as a come-on, I'd deck him).

My father was in the Navy and we lived in substandard living structures called "base housing". Lead paint, lead pipes, asbestos...and then there's all those other "top secret" things the guys are exposed to accidentally. I'm lucky I wasn't born with two heads - I have enough problems making up my mind with one!

My mother has been exposed to far more secondhand smoke than me, she and my dad have been married longer than I've been drawing breath. Thank God, she doesn't have this disease, nor does my little brother...

Should your sister avoid secondhand smoke while pregnant? Personally, I'd err on the side of caution. I didn't hang out a lot at my in-laws' house when I was pregnant and didn't sit close to my dad, either. My dad had an epiphany sometime between me moving out to get married and my son being born and decided that smoking around itty-bitty ones was a bad thing and didn't smoke in the house when we visited.

As for the question, well, I filled out a huge questionnaire when I went for my second opinion, seeking a REASON for me to have this disease. Lots of questions on exposure to secondhand smoke, smoke from a charcoal grill and how often I ate food off said grill, questions about my diet, exercise habits, etc. I guess I don't see where it's a question that isn't valid....I have questions as to why I am here and what I need to change to avoid another tumor. Obviously, I don't need to quit smoking, but what left me open to this disease (and please, God, don't let it be chocolate...).

Thanks for hanging around.

Take care,


(Edit is a grammar fix.)

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It is easy and, I guess, natural when one gets lung cancer to want to point the finger at something or someone. Lucie, my wife, was raised in a house without any smoking, and we never had smoking in our house. She got lung cancer.

I on the other hand was raised in a house with a lot of smoking, though I never smoked myself. I didn't get lung cancer, nor did any of my parents or siblings. Go figure.

I agree with others that focusing on the smoking does not rally our cause. It only gives people an excuse to ignore us. We are living with the uncertainty of why my wife got lung cancer, and we have stopped rehashing why it could have happened and have gotten on with keeping her well. Hope your sister can do the same. Don

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You know Laura, it's not just lung cancer you or your sister need to be concerned with. Cancer is cancer and if you have a lot of it in your family, you might want to consider that as a risk factor.

For what it's worth, when I had my left lung removed many moons ago, the Pathologist told my family, (who went to see my lung once it was removed) that they(Pathology Dept) could tell I lived in a Highly Populated Pollution area due to the discoloring in my lung.

They also said, they would have NEVER thought I was a smoker had it not been for the emphysema. Had it not been for the emphysema they would have said Polution was the major cause of my LC.

Oh, and I did live within the major city limits of Minnapolis and St. Paul Minnesota just one mile off a major highway for the majority of my life.

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Yes Don, I agree also that Genetic's play a huge factor here as well. Otherwise, why would they always ask us when your having a checkup if your parents, grandparents, sibling, had any back ground of cancer,and all the other good things you get from GENE'S! :roll::wink:

But, like everything, I have asked several Doctor's if they think my cancer may have been Genetic and my answers were (some said YES, and some said NO, & some said there isn't just ONE FACTOR) It's a horse a piece. :?:roll: I guess Doctor's are like everyone else, they also have a right to there opinions!! :wink:

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I hope some of you bought this weeks issue of Newsweek (front page exposure) as the article on cancer was actually so enlightening as too the causes and the need for early detection. They brought up the possiblity of genes may be a stong factor in some cases. First time I saw that in an article.

Good article... is you can get it before it leaves the newstand, which may be tomorrow. :cry:

take care


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Laura Ann,

For what it's worth, I'm the only person to have lung cancer on my mother's or father's side. My mother's sister had breast cancer. My father, my father's brother, father's father and father's father's father all have had prostate cancer. I thought I was "safe", since the only cancer really showing up genetically was prostate cancer - and I ain't got one of those! :roll:

I would think that you and your sister should be vigilant and have at least a baseline chest CT (like a baseline mammogram at 40) to be measured against for changes that may show - that is, if your doctor/s will agree to it.

I have to disagree with a few before me, it is better to be safe than sorry. You have genetics, secondhand exposure, primary exposure, environmental pollutants, being female and other possible causes adding up on the other side of the scale. I'd be telling a different story if my doctor hadn't seen a red flag on a cloudy chest x-ray. You just can't be too careful.

On the flip side, I wouldn't be too paranoid, either. Whichever way the coin lands, it's the hand you have been dealt and you have to deal with it in your own way. Had I just been dealing with a lung infection, LC never would have stayed in my mind. I would have treated my issue and gone on with my life.

It was a good question. I worry about my son (see above, prostate cancer) being more susceptible to cancer of any type now. I believe it's called "logic"... :wink:


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While I know my particular cancer was caused by smoking (SCLC) I have read, and do believe completely, that cancer is caused by genetics, turned on by "outside' factors. According to the meeting at ASCO this year, the experts seem to agree that cancer is genetic in nature. Whateer we do to ourselves to "turn it on" (smoking, living with radon, living near electric lines, bbq with charcoal) still does not make it "OK" that you have cancer. These same experts also discuss the difficulty in curing cancer because of the many, many variables involved.

Why does someone who never smoked in their life, get cancer? Radon under their house from the time they're 5 years old. Who knows, and who can prove it?

I grew up in an apartment complex (still live there) that was :FILLED with asbestos

All my relatives smoked. Was that it, was just their bad example to blame? This is a question with no answer. All we can do is move ahead now.


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Yea, as someone once posted here...if we could remember all the weird substances we are exposed to in a lifetime..fossil fuels, fumes, chemicals, air pollution, pvc's, medical/dental radiation, suns rays, food additives, water impurities..etc., etc., .... A supercomputer could not sort out all the interactions and mutations of genes that could result.

We'll simply never know till research pins it down someday...which may be a heck of a long time. So all we can do is concentrate on treatments, survival, I would say. Finding something that works! Best of luck to us all. Rich B.

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