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4-15-04 Episode of TV Show "Without a Trace"...

Fay A.

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Last night's episode portrayed a late stage Lung Cancer patient as someone who actively chose suicide as his way of handling his disease.

I wrote to CBS as follows:

Dear CBS:

This is not a complaint, though some may view it as such. I watched the April 15, 2004, episode of "Without a Trace". I have very real problems with the way the show presented the individual who had late stage Lung Cancer. You see, I've been a late stage Lung Cancer Survivor for almost 5 years. I was 44 years old when I was diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma with Bronchioloalveolar Features (AKA BAC), and I have NOT tried to kill myself. I'm involved with an online support group of over a thousand people, and they don't appear to be trying to kill themselves, either. We are actively engaged in trying to change the attitude society has about us. We fight the disease process, and we fight the stigma associated with having a disease that society believes we brought upon ourselves and deserve. We fight for early detection and allocation of research dollars for Lung Cancer. We fight the erroneous belief that because we have Lung Cancer the medical community should not bother to try to treat us because we are going to die anyway. And now we are fighting the idea that we are eager to end our lives-an idea which is reinforced by shows like yours-when what MOST of us want is to LIVE.

You've done us no favor by presenting suicide as the preferred choice of late stage Lung Cancer patients. You're buying into a generalization that is false. Come on out and ask us what we think.

One more thing...if you believe that because you have never smoked, never been exposed to secondhand smoke, never been exposed to radon or any other known carcinogen, that you are not at risk for developing Lung Cancer, then you are wrong.

For information on our online Lung Cancer Support Group contact Rick or Katie Brown, at Rick@lchelp.com. We have in excess of 1000 on line members.

Please stop presenting us as people who want to die. It isn't true, and you do us harm by presenting us this way.


Fay Aguilar

Age 49

5 year Stage IV Lung Cancer SURVIVOR

There may be those who disagree with my assessment. Please feel free to write to me or CBS and tell us how you feel.

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Hooray for Fay,

You write eloquently. Sometime, somehow, our group will get our point across.

I find when I mention this site to friends, coworkers etc., they kind of nod and turn the other way. Afraid they might need the support, I don't know.

I really believe that we have the beginnings here of a very strong advocacy group. Can you print where you sent that too so I and others can second this.



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I've known many, many cancer patients...my family is riddled with Lung Cancer on one side and Pancreatic Cancer on the others. No one considered suicide as the solution. And we talked about this. My Mother, who survived Stage IV Lung Cancer before passing away in June of 1991 told me that one of her greatest fears was that someone would try to "help her" end her life, before her God was ready to take her. She saw the issue of "assisted suicide" as the precurser to a public policy of pushing those who are terminally ill into an early death. I'm sure she's out there right now, just as horrified as I am about the way things are going.

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Great letter, Fay. I saw the episode, too...I've never watched the show before. But, and I hope that this dosn't offend anyone...the night before my Dad died, he was in excruciating pain-and for the first time since he'd been diagnosed almost two years prior-he asked me if 'mercy killing' was legal here :cry: ...when I said it wasn't he was disappointed...Fortunatly the pain subsided, and he felt more comfortable, even until he died-and for that I am most grateful to God. But when he asked me that question, my heart broke, it was just so sad, and I know that it was the pain talking, because in the two years of his battle, he NEVER felt that euthinasia was an option, but since I was a kid, we've talked about the subject and Daddy has always felt that it should be legal...He had a very low threshold for pain, and when it reared its head-that is the only time when he brought the subject up after his diagnosis.

I am glad that you wrote the letter, Fay, because the worst thing the media could do, since little attention is given to lung cancer to begin with, is to give the general public false ideas about lung cancer and those living with it...and the wrong idea about how you can get the disease-a false sence of security that if you dont/never smoked you are safe=BULLS#$*&.

Just my experience. Hope it dosn't offend anyone-everyone has their own idea about how to live and face something like cancer, and I respect all the different ways that people choose to handle it. Everyone is different, and I know it could happen to anyone. Take care, Deb

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I'm not at all offended by what you said, or what your Dad said for that matter. I understand about pain so exquisite you consider all the ways you can bring it to an end.

My Mom asked God to take her the day before she slipped into a coma. But that was a big distinction for her. She asked God to take her...not me. Not my siblings. Not her Physicians. You know what I mean?

It's wonderful to be able to have a discussion where people present different views, and still respect one another. Thank you. And I mean that.

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You have B......s. They're yellow and they have eyes and they've been bouncing around your avatar for the past month or so. Today's is exercising (what is that thing? A thighmaster?).

You have plenty of nerve, Shelley. You've faced this disease once already, and now you are doing it again...with grace, and courage, and love and comfort for your Father. I admire you so very much for going the distance with both your Mother and your Father, not to mention your cousin who also had cancer. You're a pretty amazing person, and that's not even taking into consideration your extraordinary capacity for candy.

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Good letter to CBS. I really like Without a Trace, but for some reason last night I was too restless to sit still and watch it, so I got on the computer for a while instead. I sure didn't need to see something like that before I went to bed. Talk about keeping a person up with an overactive mind...

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I also (unfortunately) saw the show. I was appalled. I'm fairly new to lung cancer and started to think to myself OMG is that what is in store for me. It was frankly terrifying. That show was an extreme disservice to the emotional and physical well being of those of us with cancer and heaven knows, it surely must affect the loved ones of cancer patients.

Geez, why didn't they show someone confronting the disease and using all their resources to fight it. If they were going to do a show on lung cancer, why not do it from a political POV - show how cancer patients are invisible to society because "they do it to themselves." How about how we are less funded than other cancers because of the latter.

My congratulations, Fay. That letter was the best thing you could do. You made sure we were not invisible. Thank you.


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Hi Bean Si,

Your puppy is toooo cute. What is his/her name. I'm a push over for animals. Glad you found us and please come here often. You are going to find this site so supportive, comforting and just awesome people. Have you had any treatments yet? I hope you are doing fine and have everything pretty much in control. You are in my prayers...

Blessings from So. California


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That women had lung cancer? boy I must have been dozing off. I know she was a "nurse' and she had cancer. I think people who push their "agenda' in TV shows are so bad. People can get pain relief etc. ?We take an oath to do no harm, killing someone is definitely right up their with doing harm. Thanks for commenting. She at least was in kidney failure , not committing suicide as it turned out. Donna G

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Donna G.

Main story line character is a nurse who has late stage breast cancer, and she also assists other cancer patients with suicide. One of her "clients" was a man who had late stage Lung Cancer. His and his wife's mini-story line is actually how her activities in euthanasia is introduced. It was touched on briefly, but in a way that was very misleading.

I couldn't sleep after seeing the show. I was very unsettled by it.

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Articulate and gutsy...as always. You are a talented writer. Thank you for sticking up for us.

Bean Si-

Your post was also "meaty" and described your feelings clearly. Would you consider copying it and sending it off to the contact link that Fay provided? It would be a good follow-up letter to Fay's.

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Fay, I saw that show and agree with your letter. I was glad that there was at least one redeeming part of it though. The nurse who did the euthenasia (sp) realized (after she received word that her cancer had taken a turn for the worse) that life was more important than dying and told the support group director that she couldn't do it anymore.

Yes, someone definately had an agenda to promote on that show.

Did you laugh at the last part where the fbi guy got a haircut? It made me smile because I was wondering why he was letting his hair get so long on the show! : )


Mom dx with sclc limited stage 0l/02

5 months chemo (carboplatin & etoposide), radiation, no pci

06/03 Recurrance found with follow up c/t, chemo (carboplatin & etoposide) began then stopped due to severe reaction

07/03 pet scan concurred ca in sternum

09/03 ct shows ca spread

09/03 Three 28-day cycles of cisplatinum & cpt-ll

12/03 some tumors responding, began 2 more 28 day cycles cisplatinum & cpt-ll

02/04 No growth, no reduction of tumors. Onc decided on a 4 week rest period to be followed by CT.

03/04 CT shows growth and additonal tumor in renal gland. Decided on l/2 dosage of cisplatinum and cpt-ll. Has severe reaction to chemo and has a seizure. Onc says we will now try Taxol or Gemzar.

04/04 Dr decided to wait on administering more chemo due to possibility of seizure being caused by chemotherapuetic neurotoxicity.

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