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The stigma of lung cancer

CINDY SHAFFER

Muncy

I want to applaud the recent opinion column by Betsy McCaughey titled “A cancer stigma unnecessarily killing thousands.”

This was an excellent article about the stigma of lung cancer and its victims. When a person is diagnosed with lung cancer, the first thing asked is, “Did he/she smoke?” And if the answer is “yes,” then sympathy for the person diminishes. It’s like their thought is, “Well you deserve it then.” There is no hoopla about lung cancer like you see for other forms of cancer and medical screening and research, in my opinion, does not focus on lung cancer like they do other cancers.

People first need to understand that lung cancer does NOT come just from smoking – there are many who have never smoked a day in their lives but died of lung cancer. My husband is an example.

Yes, he smoked in his younger years but had not smoked for 32 years when diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that took his life after a valiant fight to overcome his diagnosis.

There was a family history of colon, prostate, and lung cancer but the only screening offered was for colon cancer, a screening he faithfully had.

Research that has been done is showing that lung cancer may be caused by many contributors – radon gas in the home and toxins found in plastics as examples.

After my husband passed, I had our home tested for radon gas and the readings were very high – he spent numerous hours in the basement of our home in his man cave. I now have a radon system in my home, but it is too late to have been a preventative for him.

People need to think about all those plastic water bottles that they drink from that are often exposed to hot temperatures mixing the water with the toxic ingredients making up that bottle.

And then there are all the plastic dishes that contain the food you put in the microwave to heat up – the same toxic materials are now mixed with the food you consume.

I asked my family doctor about getting screened for lung cancer since I am a former smoker and I spent time in our basement along with my husband. Unfortunately, the X-ray/CT scans are only available if you are or were a smoker, have a lingering cough that is not associated with allergies or colds, or have a strong family history of lung cancer.

Thank you, Betsy McCaughey, for shedding light on this subject and the stigma associated with it.

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