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another thought on how one might get lung cancer


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Hello Friends,

In reading all your posts on lung cancer activism, and how frustrating it is that it is only associated with smoking, I just have something to add.

My father was diagnosed in 1999 with non hodgkins lymphoma Stage IV with a met to the lung. He did chemo, went into remission and in 2001 he relapsed again with a met to the lung. He had a stem cell transplant in September of that year and that disease remains in remission. If any of you know what a stem cell transplant entails, you know that your immune system is brought down to practically nothing. I remember his white couont being 0.9. You are given huge blasts of chemo and you are in the hospital for the final blast before the actual stem cell transplant because the hospital is basically your immune system at that point, with IV antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal. Needless to say, although my father did recover nicely from this, his blood counts were never the same. This is why he cannot be blasted with chemo for the lung cancer. His marrow isnt strong enough.

4 months later the nodule on his lung appeared. Of course the doc was not eager to open him back up or blast him with more chemo, (and PET at the time was negative) but Ive done that story before, this point is different. We believe, that this could be the reason he got the lung cancer. While your immune system is down so low you are open to anything, his weakness was his right lung both times with the lymphoma and that is where the lung cancer is. Yes, my father was a smoker (stopped 5 years ago)so if I tell this story that is what people will tell me, but we feel there was more to it than that. Even the surgeon told us there are many reasons for lung cancer, no one knows for sure.

Also, as Ive mentioned before, this is a wonderful, kind, quiet, unselfish man. He started smoking when he was about 17 long before society was fully aware of the dangers. By the time they were aware, many were already hooked or young enough to think it couldnt happen to them. He should not be looked at as deserving to get it for smoking, deserving to get it for poor choices when so many of his other choices were good, kind, and unselfish. The good choices he makes in his life far outweigh the poor choices he made. He, in no way, deserved this disease. He does far more good in this world than to be penalized for one bad choice. Does someone that constantly hurts people with their words, curses, uses dirty language deserve tongue or throat cancer? Does someone with eating disorders (overeating or undereating) deserve stomach cancer?

So, friends, my story got long, thank you if you got this far! My original intention was to bring out that sometimes there are other causes for lung cancer and having a disease like lymphoma with a stem cell transplant could certainly bring you down enough to be susceptible to anything.

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Thank you, Shirley, for your nice response to my post!!!

Cary, yes, I still belong to a non hodgkins lymphoma list and I used to participate in a weekly chat. I do remember in my research at the time, that it did say, stem cell could leave you open to other cancers later on in life, who knew it would be 4 months after conquering the first one! Even knowing that, at the time, you are thinking about getting rid of the disease at hand, hoping youll be free of cancer. We wouldnt have done it any other way. A friend told me her father had a heart transplant about 9 years ago, again, your immune system is repressed so your body will accept the heart. He has lung cancer now, she believes his transplant and immune system repression played a part in it also. So, my mission now is to build up my father's immune system so he can fight this. We are seeing a doctor/nutritionist that deals with alternative medicine in January. I am praying it will boost him where he needs to be.

Thanks for reading, friends!

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I started smoking in 1957, as a 14 year freshman in high school. I smoked off and on throughout high school. When I graduated the first thing I did, was step outside the door of the high school gymnasium, where graduation was held, joined my friends and we had a smoke fest. The only precaution we were given about smoking, at a young age, was that "smoking would stunt your growth". Back then you could smoke in resturants, buses, airplanes, waiting rooms at medical clinics, smoke in stores, smoke at work and at you own desk no less. You go out after work to a bar or restuarant, you smoked. You go to a party, you smoked.

When I joined the Army, 1961, we had to have a pack of cigarettes displayed in our foot locker and have a carton of cigarettes, neatly stowed away in the lower part of the foot lockers. Everybody had to be the same no exceptions. If you didn't smoke before basic training, you learned in basic. You would open your field rations and out would come a pack of cigarettes, usually non-filtered Pall Mall or Lucky Strike. You could buy a pack of cigarettes at the PX for 10 cents a pack. The USO and Service Clubs always provivded complimentary packs of cigarettes. You smoked in the barracks. You smoked in the dining hall. Every hour you would be given a smoke break. If on a forced field march, as soon as the order "route step", meaning walk at your leisure, you could smoke. That is when you would get the picture of the GI with fully loaded back pack, rifle, and munitions, marching along with a cigarette hanging from his lips.

I was assigned to the medical branch of the Army and was trained as a medical laboratory specialist. In the laboratory, there were usually 2 places you could not smoke - bacteriology and the isolation room. Otherwise you could smoke anywhere else in the lab. At one time I worked with a cardiologist, who would tell his patients to quit smoking because of heart disease, and he would smoke 2-3 packs per day. Things stayed pretty much the same until the mid 70's. Slowly but surely restrictions started filtering in. Dining halls were declared smoke free and no one was allowed to smoke in the presence of patients. Exam rooms became smoke free, waiting areas the same. Each section of the hospital would have to designate a smoking room. People, however, still smoked. These restrictions did not deter them, they just altered their lifestyle. At this same time, the Army began offering smoking cessation classes, modeled after the AA 12 step program. The failure rate in this program was high as 96%.

I continued to smoke throughout my Army career. I finally quit in June 1997, almost 5 years before being diagnosed with lung cancer.

There are other factors. In the laboratory I was exposed to all kinds of chemicals such as sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and other chemicals such as ether and choroform. I also was trained in Nuclear Medicine and worked in that field for 14 years. I was a radiation worker and several incidents of overexposure. I lived in Los Angeles for over a year and Denver, Colorado for 4 years, both historically high pollution areas. I also had previous lung disease with non active TB. I have also worked in the dairy industry, selling chemicals, cleaning supplies, and sanitation agents to dairy farms. I have been exposed to all the smells of a farm, including the most obvious, to chemicals and pesticides.

Now I get lung cancer and the first thing I am faced with was: "See, you shouldn't have smoked!". With everything I have been exposed to in my life, what was the biggest contributor to lung cancer? I don't know and the doctors don't know, yet the bottom line with the general public is that I smoked for 40 years. The other thing, when I was exposed to all these other hazards, preventative measure had not been implementated in most cases. Large scale preventive measures did not appear until the late 70's and 80's.

So there it is. I have had exposure to just about everything on the list of possible risks associated with lung cancer. Only one thing is held against me - I smoked. Amazing??!! or not so amazing??!!

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Dave, THANK YOU for adding so much more to the point I was making. You reminded me of so much more that is my father's story. He was a Marine in the reserves and I remember hearing a lot of what you described, and yes, he smoked Lucky Strikes. And, yes, through his life he was exposed to many other factors that contribute to both his lung cancer AND his lymphoma. We'd have to live in a bubble not to be exposed to some of them.

But as I said in another post, I think its fear that makes people say, "well you smoked". Especially if they are non smokers or havent smoked in many years, they can reassure themselves by saying "well I wont get that disease, I didnt smoke," or "I quit so long ago when those warnings were becoming known that my body must be clear by now".

And if it comes down to what people deserve or not deserve, based on how my father lives his life, as Ive said his many, many other choices have been so unselfish, giving, kind, God would not punish him for the few poor choices he might have made at 17 years old when he really didnt think he was making a poor choice at all. But even having said that, no one deserves any kind of cancer.

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I, supposedly, have no service connected illnesses or injuries connected to my military service. My military retirement pay puts me over the maximum allowable income for VA care. The military is absolutely not accepting any blame for those who smoked while they were in service. Yet, they continued to cell cigarettes at a highly discounted price and included a pack in the field rations. If that wasn't encouragement to smoke, I don't know what else was.

Just so you know, I am on Tricare, which is the military version of health insurance for military retirees and their dependents. It works pretty well, but has $150 deductible, with a $3000 per year stop gap measure. My out of pocket expense has been quite manageable. I have, however, had some run arounds about coverage, but usually I have won each appeal, not all mind you, but most of the appeals.

As I am now on social security disability, I will be on Medicare next August, 12 months after my disability approval. For those interested, Stage III and IV, recurrent lung cancer is an automatic for social security disability. The start date is another thing as that can vary according to ther findings of the Social Security Administration. Expect at least one month's wait for an answer. After three weeks, it is also advisable to start hounding them, and, I found, Congressional Representatives are very receptive to taking on the Social Security Administration. I would suggest that you contact the clinic and/or hospital social worker for assistance. I got tremendous help from the social worker at U of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Just thought I would include some little tidbits for the help of everybody concerned. These are from my personal experience. I have also received handicapped parking privileges because of diminished breathing capacity. The bottom line, use whatever advantages are available for having lung cancer.

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I was treated in Nevada in 1989 for a hyper active thyroid. I had to swallow 3 HUGE capsules which contained radioactive iodine which the thyroid absorbs. I was told at the time to stay away from small children, kittens and puppies for 10 days so I would not expose them to the radioactivity! Living in Nevada for 10 years is a treat in itself when it comes to being exposed to cancer causing agents. I worked in a cave in MIssouri for 7 years in which we had mushrooms growing on the ceiling due to the high humidity. I am sure the radon levels were high also but at that time, radon was not thought about as it is today. I worked on my grandfathers farm as a youngster, worked in a soap factory, raced stock cars (I was a wild child) so I also was exposed to about ALL the harmful things that may or may not cause cancer. I will never know what caused it I just know that no one DESERVES it no matter what they did or did not do.

God Bless,


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I had two separate breast cancers before the lung cancer. My oncologist did say that once you have had one cancer you are at a higher risk for another. Was lung cancer mentioned during my radiation? It was 10 years ago, and my memory is gone, :wink: but I'm sure I would have gone with the radiation anyway. I do believe my immune system sucks, so I get my massages to stimultate it, see a therapist, and take anti-depressents. And yes, I did smoke from 1974-1984.

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