Lung Cancer Awareness

Lung Cancer Awareness

Think lung cancer only happens to smokers? Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as immunity from this disease. In 2012, lung cancer became the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada, and this year alone, the disease will kill more women than breast, ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers combined.

“An increasing number of people have lung cancer and were never smokers or quit a long time ago, and that stigma is unfair,” says Dr. Janessa Laskin, a medical oncologist at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver. “Blaming someone for their disease is devastating.”

November marks Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a time to raise dollars for research to fight the disease, and bring awareness to end stigmas surrounding those affected.

John S. Konarowski, a former smoker who has stage IV lung cancer, says when he was diagnosed, even members of the medical community responded negatively or said it was “his fault for smoking.”

In a recent survey by Lung Cancer Canada, 35 per cent of Canadian women said they felt more sympathetic towards women with breast cancer than they do towards women with lung cancer.

Lung cancer itself affects both smokers and non-smokers and men and women. Besides smoking, other causes of the disease include exposure to asbestos fibres, second-hand smoking and some natural chemicals like radon gas. These days, Laskin says she sees more and more women in their 40s and 50s, many of whom are shocked with their diagnoses at their age.

“I see an increase of younger women who never smoked or smoked 40 years ago and have cancer now,” she says. “Part of the issue is physicians don’t think about lung cancer and people don’t either.”

Early symptoms can vary for different people, but most commonly, lung cancer symptoms can include a cough that won’t go away, fatigue and shortness of breath. However, Laskin says not all “long coughs” are deadly, and if you are concerned, you should contact a doctor for a chest X-ray.

The Huffington Post Canada talked to seven people currently living with the disease about awareness, their experiences with negativity and the healing process.


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Created by: Aman Kapur


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