Denver Woman Speaks Out Against Lung Cancer Stigma
Peggy Dennis shares her story to help raise awareness of lung cancer in women
(May 7, 2019) - DENVER
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Colorado native Peggy Dennis, who has no family history of lung cancer and is a healthy and active woman, was in complete shock to learn she had stage IV lung cancer in 2016. Now she is fighting to raise awareness of lung cancer in women, erase lung cancer stigma and fund life-saving research at the American Lung Association in Colorado’s LUNG FORCE Walk on June 2.
In July of 2016, Dennis felt a sharp pain when she took a deep breath in the middle of the night. While it resolved over the next few days, she visited the doctor to get it checked out. An x-ray revealed a spot on her upper right lung. The doctors initially wanted to rule out an infection before getting a biopsy.
“I had never smoked and I was generally healthy. We weren’t thinking that it could be lung cancer,” said Dennis.
But two weeks later after further testing, Dennis was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that had metastasized to some lymph nodes and the pleura of her right lung.
“It was an absolute total shock. I walked around for a while wondering what happened. I felt betrayed. I was wondering, ‘what did I do wrong?’” she said.
Following her diagnosis, Dennis had a comprehensive genomic profiling test done on the tumor to determine the best treatment options. Over the last three years, she has had chemotherapy, a newly approved lung cancer treatment, and most recently, radiation on the remaining tumor. Today, she gets scans regularly to check for recurrence of the lung cancer, but otherwise feels great and lives her life as though she doesn’t have cancer.
“Cancer is not who I am. Cancer doesn’t define me, it informs my life,” she said. “It is very important for me to be able to speak to the importance of screening, genomic testing and research. There is also a lot of blame and stigma associated with lung cancer and I would like to see that change. If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer.”
She engaged with the Lung Association to help make a difference at the LUNG FORCE Walk. She hopes that sharing her story will help raise awareness of lung cancer in women who have never smoked and help fund research.
“As a mom with a daughter, I want to make sure that her generation doesn’t have to worry about lung cancer,” she said.
The LUNG FORCE Walk is on Saturday, June 2 at 8 a.m. at Great Lawn Park in Denver. The event includes a three-mile walk as well as a one-mile option for those with lung disease. It is free to register and participate, but fundraising is encouraged. More information and registration is available at available on the LUNG FORCE Walk website.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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