Jump to content

Group works to raise lung-cancer awareness

Recommended Posts

http://www.mlive.com/news/aanews/index. ... xml&coll=2

Walkathon part of efforts to raise money, erase stigma

Friday, April 07, 2006


News Staff Reporter

When Ann Arbor resident Carrie Hall's father was diagnosed with lung cancer last June, she left her job at a southeast Michigan adoption agency to care for him.

It wasn't long before she began looking into what support groups there might be for family members of sufferers. But they were harder to come by than she expected.

"There just isn't that sense of large community that there is with a lot of other cancers,'' Hall said. "There are commercials with all of those cancers. And with a diagnosis like (lung cancer) ... you don't have that to fall back on.''

An event coming up this weekend is trying to change that. The Find Your Breath Walkathon was started in Ann Arbor in 2005. Hall heard about it through some friends at the University of Michigan. She signed on to be a team leader, and will lead a group of at least 10 on the walk Sunday in the second year for the local event.

It's one of relatively few lung cancer awareness events in the area, organizers say. But it's also an opportunity to raise the profile of the deadly disease, as well as to raise money for research.

Though lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in the United States, it remains one of the more poorly funded, advocates say.

According to an organization known as Lungevity, lung cancer kills more Americans each year than breast, prostate, colorectal and pancreatic cancers combined.

Yet in 2004, approximately $1,723 in research money was spent per lung cancer death compared with $13,953 per breast cancer death, $10,318 per prostate cancer death and $4,618 per colorectal cancer death.

That, and the lack of a strong support and resource network for sufferers and their families, may be attributable to the disease's association with smoking, advocates say.

Yelena Adelman, a U-M sophomore from Saline who helped organize this year's event, lost her mother to cancer after a four-year battle.

"I think a lot of people think it's smokers who are affected,'' she said. "But my mom was a nonsmoker.''

In fact, the organization was founded by a young Chicago woman and U-M graduate, Melissa Lumberg Zagon, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in her early 30s. Zagon had never smoked, said Kate Schmier, a junior from Birmingham whose family is close to Zagon's family.

"It's still very stigmatized because people have this conception that the only way you can get it is from smoking, but that's not true,'' said Schmier, another organizer. "An even larger percentage (of victims) are current nonsmokers - at one point they quit.''

"And even if they are smokers, no one deserves this disease,'' she added.

Lung cancer has gotten more attention in recent months because of the diagnosis and death of Dana Reeve, the activist wife of actor Christopher Reeve. The nonsmoker was only 44 when she died last month.

The walkathon's organizers hope it will continue to grow. Last year's event turned out 200 people and raised $10,000, but $9,000 had already been raised this year as of Wednesday, Adelman said.

The event consists of a rally, a 45-minute walk and speakers who include Zagon's relatives. Zagon, who has been living with her diagnosis for about five years, is unable to attend this weekend, Schmier said.

Hall said the event is also an opportunity to meet people who share her concerns.

"You are surrounded by people who are as passionate about getting the word out as you are,'' she said.

Tracy Davis can be reached at tdavis@annarbornews.com or


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.