Jump to content

'I Kept Thinking There's Been A Mistake'


Recommended Posts


November 11, 2005

By Mary Beth Walker

A non-smoker from Seattle is sharing her story of lung cancer and her fight to live in honor of lung cancer awareness month.

SEATTLE - "Even as they were wheeling me into the operating room I kept thinking 'there's been a mistake here' because I felt so well, and I had just had an exercise stress test and they said I passed it with strong results," remembers Cecilia Izzo.

Izzo, an active wife and mother of two daughters, has lung cancer.

One month after she was diagnosed, the reality of it set in.

"I had my lung removed April 2, 2004," she explains. Now she has just her left lung.

But Cecilia doesn't fit the image of someone with lung cancer because she only smoked a handful of times and that was decades ago.

"I did smoke as a teenager, I would take a cigarette here and there," she says. "But my family smoked very heavily growing up, and then I waited tables for a very long time to out myself through high school and college."

According to the American Lung Association, roughly 15 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer never smoked.

Izzo is sharing her story in honor of Lung Cancer Awareness month.

"More women are effected by lung cancer than breast cancer, but most people don't understand that or don't see that," explains Robin Evans-Agnew with the American Lung Association of Washington. "Lung cancer rates for women are continuing to increase."

He believes we need much more research on the disease. "It is not being funded at the level we need for high-level research into finding the causes and cures for all lung diseases," he says.

Right now "no one gets cured," Evans-Agnew adds. "Once you're diagnosed with lung cancer you are in that zone -- you're in that five year zone and you're watching. When you come out of that five year window and you have a little party to celebrate, but then you are looking behind your back every step of the way there on."

Cecilia is in that zone and knows exactly what it feels like. "I always tuck it in the back of my mind that it is probably going to resurface I've been told, I just have to stay on top of it," she says.

Still, she lives an active life that includes bike riding and dragon boating. At times she gets winded and has to stop and gasp for a breath.

Evans-Agnew says roughly 20 percent of Washington residents are smokers. He wants to see those numbers go down and he encourages people to find the strength to quit.

"I was a smoker and it took me six years and 20 attempts to quit," he candidly admits. "My advice to a smoker is to seek out every which way that you can to get help to quit smoking."

Of all the people diagnosed with lung cancer, only 15 percent survive five years, the other 85 percent die.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.