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Telling friends and family that you or a loved one has cancer is a very emotional and vulnerable experience. A typical conversation might go something like this:
You: “I took my dad to the doctor this week. They ran some tests and discovered that he has cancer.”
Friend: "I’m so sorry to hear that. How are you holding up and what can I do to help?”
This outpouring of sympathy and support is a welcomed response, and feeling that you have people in your corner can help you cope with a recent cancer diagnosis. However, when it’s a lung cancer diagnosis, the response from others can be quite different.
You: “I took my dad to the doctor this week. They ran some tests and discovered that he has lung cancer.”
Friend: “Was he a smoker?”
More men and women die from lung cancer than breast, prostate and colorectal cancer combined (American Lung Association). Yet, many lung cancer patients don’t get the same support due to stereotypes associated with the disease.
Smoker or not, nobody deserves cancer. And although smoking remains the number one risk factor for lung cancer, up to 15 percent of people with lung cancer are nonsmokers.
Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk of lung cancer by up to 30 percent. Aside from exposure to secondhand smoke, other causes of lung cancer in nonsmokers include exposure to radon gas (an odorless gas found in some homes), asbestos and other chemicals, as well as genetic predisposition.
What cancer patients DO deserve is your support. Visit the American Lung Association website and find ways to get involved and show your support for patients with lung cancer. Stereotypes only exist because we allow them to. Your support means more than you realize to those touched by cancer.
Want to quit smoking? We can help.
If you are a smoker who wants to take charge of your health, Edward-Elmhurst Health offers many programs to help you quit smoking and get back on the Healthy Driven track.
Contact us for more information and support:
Edward Hospital Cancer Centers: 630-527-3788
The Nancy W. Knowles Cancer Center at Elmhurst: 331-221-2172
Learn more about cancer services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.
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