One beautiful Tuesday morning in September, the doctor said, “I am very sorry to tell you but you have lung cancer.”
We were shocked. Even the doctor was shocked.
That was in 2005. Little did I know how those words would change my life. In fact, little did know about lung cancer. Since then I have learned so much. Now it is my passion to share what I have learned about lung cancer.
You see, I am a survivor. I beat the odds. Sure, there is always the cloud of uncertainty over my head. But to date, I have survived ten years since that fateful September Tuesday when I received my diagnosis. Not only am I surviving. I am thriving.
I know it was not the science, although I am grateful for gifted doctors and scientific advancements. I know it was not my own will to live or positive thinking. I am alive by the grace of God. And for His purposes I remain here for now. And I have come to believe that He deeply cares for those suffering from lung cancer—patients as well as their loved ones.
Until I experienced this suffering personally, I could not comprehend the magnitude of the needs…for research, early detection, awareness and compassion. Now I know.
I know that lung cancer is the number one cancer killer. I learned that lung cancer is usually diagnosed when it is in an advanced stage. Therefore, most people die within a year of their diagnosis. And I was surprised to learn that the majority of new diagnoses are in people who quit smoking years previously or never smoked at all. And I learned that no matter how or why someone is diagnosed with lung cancer, they deserve compassion and quality medical care. I learned that the five-year survival rate is approximately 17 percent and it has not improved much in decades.
I feel as though I am walking away from a plane crash. And, essentially, I have. Every day, the number of Americans who die from lung cancer is the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing from the sky, killing everyone onboard.
I have survived. But I am not walking away. I am searching among the wreckage for other potential survivors. With long awaited research concluding lung cancer screening saves lives, we must get the word out. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in never smokers. In fact, radon induced lung cancer will kill more Americans this year than AIDS, drunk driving, home fires or drowning. And yet so few know that testing their home for radon and fixing it if there is a problem is easy and inexpensive.
I have a purpose now. It’s to share my knowledge and experiences with others…to offer hope and encouragement to those at risk…to advocate for research funding…to warn those who think they are immune from lung cancer…to put a face to the number one cancer killer.
There is so much to be done. I am so thankful for the opportunity and gratified to be doing this meaningful work.