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Battling cancer myths - Calgary Sun


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http://calsun.canoe.ca/News/Alberta/200 ... 16004.html

Battling cancer myths

Survivor dispels lung-disease stereotypes


As a teenager, Constance O'Laughlin occasionally lit up a smoke.

Now in her 50s, she hasn't touched a cigarette in decades and trains as a marathon runner.

Last year when she developed a nagging, deep cough, she thought she perhaps had asthma.

Instead, O'Laughlin was delivered the shattering blow she had lung cancer.

"I was numb," the 52-year-old lawyer said about being diagnosed.

Now in remission, O'Laughlin joined doctors and patients yesterday for a conference at Foothills hospital dedicated to dispelling myths about the disease.

"There's a huge stigma attached to it," she said. "It's not just a smoker's disease."

To fight the cancer, O'Laughlin faced gruelling radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and battled nausea and fatigue.

Not willing to let the cancer get her down, she continued to run three times a week and lifted weights.

"I absolutely believed I would be a survivor," she said.

She's one of the rare patients who hasn't succumbed to the disease, said Calgary oncologist Dr. Gwyn Bebb.

In Alberta, there are about 2,000 new lung cancer cases each year and about 1,800 patients die, said Bebb.

Although 80% of lung cancers are related to smoking, two-thirds of patients no longer smoke, he said.

And up to 20% of patients have never taken a puff, he said.

Many dismiss the disease as self-induced or even deserved, said Bebb, who is working hard to erase those negative stereotypes.

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