About 18 months ago, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. The irony is that I have spent the last 30 years working to prevent lung cancer caused by elevated levels of radon, a radioactive gas that is found in every home and is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.
Although 1 in 17 women will get lung cancer at some point in their lives, I somehow thought that I wouldn’t be one of them. However, three years ago I began to experience shortness of breath, wheezing, and a persistent cough. Although my age and smoking history put me into the group of people for whom a CT scan is recommended, three doctors told me, “You don’t need one.”
Finally, the fourth doctor ordered a scan, and the rest is history. Many lung cancers can be prevented, and all can have better outcomes if detected early. My mission now is to make sure that everyone knows the importance of prevention and early detection. I also want to see more lung cancer patients and their families ignore the outdated stigma attached to this disease and stand up to demand better funding for the number 1 cancer killer.