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Young lung cancer survivor set her own agenda

18 April 2002

VANCOUVER - While new statistics indicate that death rates for lung cancer in women have increased by 2 per cent, cancer survivor Janice Ireland chose to ignore the numbers.

When she was 42, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Although she had quit smoking five years earlier, the damage had already been done. "Although I knew that lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in men and women, I chose to set my own agenda."

She didn't undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment, but she did have an operation to remove part of her upper right lung. After the surgery, she began to take multivitamins and she also changed her diet to include more fruits and vegetables. She now practices yoga and meditation, too.

'Laughter is another great defence mechanism," Ireland says. "My family and friends helped me get through this with their support and much-needed sense of humour."

Now that Ireland has been cancer-free for seven years, she's working full-time during the day and volunteering for the Canadian Cancer Society's CancerConnection program. This program provides telephone support to people living with cancer. Callers are matched with trained volunteers who have survived a similar cancer experience. "I am involved with CancerConnection because I am so grateful to be alive. I want to share my story with others and give them hope. I tell callers to ignore the statistics and keep fighting. It certainly worked for me."

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