Christine Posted September 14, 2007 Share Posted September 14, 2007 What The New, Young Faces Of Lung Cancer Are Doing Terri Gruca, WCCO Reporting (WCCO) Each year in Minnesota: More people are diagnosed with lung cancer than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. It's a disease most people associate with smokers, but a growing number of patients have never smoked. Sometimes the place that makes us feel the safest hides a horrible truth. Berni Collins and her family learned that three years ago when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. "It's really been hard to accept because I've never smoked," said Collins. A quick test of her home revealed she had been living the past 34 years in a home with dangerous levels of radon. "I got the results back and found out we had a 7.8 level," Collins said. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas and is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Levels above four are considered dangerous. Two of every five homes in Minnesota that are tested are above that level. "Testing our home is one of the best things we've ever done," said Collins. Doctors may never know for sure if radon caused Collin's cancer. Lung cancer caused by radon does not look any different than that caused by smoking or second-hand smoke. However, Collins was determined to keep the invisible gas out of her home. She spent $1,300 on a system to keep the radon out. She can now constantly monitor the levels in her home. Since installing the system the levels have stayed at zero. "We wanted to make sure no one else would ever go through this living in this house if that was the cause of it," said Collins. If that's not enough to make you test your home -- maybe these stories will. High levels of radon combined with smoking can double your risk of developing lung cancer. Something MJ McKeon didn't know until she was diagnosed 17 months ago. "I had had pain in my shoulder for about two years," said McKeon. She associated it with a car accident from a few years earlier until a CT scan showed the cancer had grown out of her lung and near her spine. Judy Golz's diagnosis came during a routine checkup for an adrenal gland issue. "I felt perfectly fine, there were no symptoms to make me feel like I was sick," Golz said. Her cancer resembles cotton in her lungs. Lise Kraemer was the picture of perfect health until June of this year. This 43-year-old non-smoking mother of three works out five days a week. "My legs were swollen and my knees hurt, I couldn't bend my knees," said Kraemer. Luckily she didn't ignore the symptoms and went to her doctor who eventually performed a chest x-ray. "There was a big mass," she recalls. Each of these women is living with one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Their symptoms were totally different; two out of three of them didn't smoke. Yet they are increasingly the kinds of patients showing up at doctor's offices across the state. "We're tending to see a trend in non-smoking females that are younger," said oncology nurse Michele O'Brien. "They don't know why. There are epidemiology studies being done now." There is no mandatory screening for lung cancer, however these women want to encourage other women to stop and listen to their bodies. Do not ignore feeling tired or any of the other symptoms they suffered. After being diagnosed with cancer these women formed a support group. They meet weekly to talk about ways to raise awareness. Lung Run/Walk This Saturday those cancer survivors are launching the first Twin Cities 5K Lung Run and Walk at Lake Calhoun. The money they raise goes to research as to why so many new cancer cases are being diagnosed each year. To know more about how to participate in that run go here. The event kicks off at 8 a.m. with the run beginning at 9 a.m. and the walk at 10 a.m. Radon Test Kits You can get a radon test kit at your local health department. Many give them away for free. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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