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Women at risk shun the scalpel


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From the Toronto Star, Nov 21, 2006

I read this in this mornings online edition. I do not know Anne, but wanted to acknowledge her and thank her for making some noise!



Nov. 21, 2006. 01:00 AM


Women at risk shun the scalpel


Nov. 19.

I have long applauded the efforts of the Toronto Star to raise awareness and educate the public about breast cancer, particularly since two of my aunts died from this terrible disease and several friends and colleagues have been directly impacted by it as well.

However, it continues to disturb me that while November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, virtually no media coverage has been provided. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in North America, killing more Canadians than breast, colorectal and prostate cancer combined. There is a pervasive social stigma associated with lung cancer; people assume it's the patient's "fault" because he or she has smoked. Overweight individuals can suffer from diabetes or heart attacks, yet they are not ostracized for poor eating choices. Since so many individuals are diagnosed in the late stages of lung cancer, there are few survivors to raise awareness and funds for research. Alarmingly, lung cancer is on the rise in women.

Two years ago, at age 39, I was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, never having tried a cigarette in my life and never having been exposed to second-hand smoke or unsafe working conditions. My doctor told me I had a year to live.

Miraculously, I received a double-lung transplant at Toronto General Hospital, which saved my life. Dana Reeve, Christopher Reeve's wife, was not as fortunate. When she passed away last February from lung cancer, everyone mourned the loss of a wonderful wife, mother, and activist, but no one in the media bothered to ask, "Why did this woman, a non-smoker, have lung cancer?"

I owe my life to many people and now that I have longer than a year to live, I am committed to raising awareness about lung cancer and the incredible power that people possess to save lives when they sign their organ donation cards.


Anne Barbetta, Newmarket

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