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Clear ribbon, invisible walkers

Advocates for lung cancer awareness doing everything they can to spread the word.

Approximately 174,470 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year and 162,460 will die from it this year. Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and kills more than breast, colorectal, prostate and pancreatic cancers COMBINED. So why is it lung cancer gets so little attention?

Many of those diagnosed with the disease will say it is the stigma that is attached to the disease. The public may view lung cancer as a preventable disease, simply a smokers disease, and give little thought to supporting those diagnosed with the disease to find more treatment options and a cure.

The fact is, everyone is at risk for lung cancer. Studies are being conducted that reveal genetics and heredity, environmental factors and lifestyle choices are all factors in who gets the disease. The alarming number of young adults being diagnosed with lung cancer, like Dana Reevs, who never smoked in their lives, proves that no one is immune to the epidemic.

So what can you do to support lung cancer patients and survivors during lung cancer awareness month? It isn’t as easy as buying clothing or donating a dollar at your local grocery. No. There is no ribbon campaign or marketed products that you can purchase that give proceeds to fund lung cancer research. In fact, the ribbon color for lung cancer is “clear”, which symbolizes lung cancer as the invisible disease in how difficult it is to detect in it's earliest stages and symbolizes how the pubic has viewed those with lung cancer in the past. But things are beginning to change.

During the month of November, lung cancer advocates will pool together through out the country to raise awareness and raise funding for lung cancer research. Currently, the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act commits $127.5M to breast cancer programs, $80M for prostate cancer programs, $10M for ovarian cancer programs, and $0 for lung cancer programs.

In 2005, only $1,627 was spent on research per lung cancer death, whereas $13,704 was spent per breast cancer death, $10,181 per prostate cancer death, $4,496 per colorectal cancer death. Yet, lung cancer kills more each year than all three combined.

There is a lot of media attention on those with other types of cancers. Lung cancer does not usually get the same courtesy. In many cities and states, there will be no walks or events to commemorate that November is lung cancer awareness month making it difficult to raise awareness about the disease or raise money for lung cancer research.

One group has found a way to change that.

The Lung Cancer Support Community (LCSC) is an online community that supports those with lung cancer and their family members. Membership is free and members reside from NY to CA and all places in between. There are even members in Canada , United Kingdom, Australia, and Hong Kong with a common goal, supporting those with lung cancer and searching for a cure.

This year, the LCSC has organized a walk “via satellite” throughout the country. While the originating walk is happening live in Boston, MA, people from around the country can walk to their local parks or around their neighborhoods and raise awareness about lung cancer.

“There are times when you want to do something, but there may not be anything happening in your city or state. Or maybe you’re in treatment and can’t get to an event and need to stay close to home. THIS is something anyone can do!”

Satellite walking is a revolutionary idea. Someone in California or Utah or Texas can be directly involved in a large walk in Boston or NYC or wherever organizers organize an event. They sign up, get a personalized fundraising webpage and solicit their friends and family and co workers for sponsorship for the satellite walk that benefit the LUNGevity Foundation, the only organization dedicated exclusively to funding lung cancer research.

Now, no matter where you are in the country, you can be a part of an organized event to help raise awareness about lung cancer and fund lung cancer research.

For more information on the Satellite Walks, please visit www.lchelp.org/satellitewalk or call the LUNGevity Foundation at 773-281-LUNG

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Well, I just contacted my local paper and we'll see what happens -- I've actually asked them if they would be willing to run a series of stories on LC during the month of November and I gave them some of your key stats above. Let's see if they'll do it. I did a search on their articles and could find 0 on LC.

First up will be the Satellite Walk -- but hopefully there will be others.

If they take me up on it, I'll be looking for at least 4 good pieces to give them -- would be nice to do perhaps a feature one on LUNGevity itself I think too......I definitely am not ready to give them "my story" as it's just a bit painful for me to do that yet. I can still get the word out though.


P.S. Isn't there a post somewhere about how LC is now recognized federally as a priority problem? Something about a commitment (a house/senate thing) to reduce LC deaths (or something like that) by some percentage by 2015? I swore I saw that somewhere in the past in here -- could be good bit of data for news next month, but I don't remember where I found it!!!

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