November is always a very beautiful month for me. It is Lung Cancer Awareness month and I feel completely immersed in my advocacy for 30 perfect days. This year I had the Breathe Deep NYC Walk, The Hope Gala, I spent some quality time with Chris Draft and the The Chris Draft Family Foundation, I filmed a commercial and had so many other activities that make me proud to stand up for Lung Cancer.
My individual team was able to raise over $2,000 for Lung Cancer at the Breathe Deep NYC walk this year. And as a whole we raised an incredible amount at the Hope Gala. All in all it was a perfect month.
But lets talk about Lung Cancer for a minute. What else can we do? How else can we help? Let’s start by talking about the stigma.
Lung Cancer is still labeled a “Smokers Disease.” People assume those who have Lung Cancer have “brought it upon themselves”, and even worse “deserved this.” No one deserves to get a life altering disease, suffer, and especially die. Lung Cancer can happen to anyone. If you have lungs, you can have lung cancer. Whether you smoke or not shouldn’t be in the equation of who deserves this more. We need to stand up with our friends, family, and co-workers who have smoked and have gotten Lung Cancer and think, this could have been me. I firmly believe this stigma interferes with our progress. It puts a shameful tone on Lung Cancer. It causes people to turn a blind eye, and judge without knowing the facts. We should never assume that someone’s lifestyle has had a causal effect on their health. You’d never turn to someone with Brain Cancer and tell them they got it because they thought too hard. I believe in karma, but not when it comes to health. Survivors did not bring this upon themselves, they do not deserves this, and deserve more respect than the general public is giving them.
Here are some things you should never say to someone who has been diagnosed with Lung Cancer:
- Did you smoke?
- Like never, not even once?
- Didn’t you know that smoking gives you Lung Cancer?
- Did your parents smoke? Brother? Sister? Grandparents?
- Did you live somewhere with lots of Radon, I hear thats bad for you?
- I have a friend who turned vegan/stopped eating sugar/takes really good care of their bodies and now she/he doesn’t have cancer, maybe you should try it..
- How long did the doctors say you would live?
- I read online that someone exercised every day and their tumor shrunk, you should probably be more active?
Instead, listen to the survivor, be supportive. Don’t judge, or project your own feelings about Lung Cancer onto them. If you are asked your opinion then gently give it. Offer to go to doctor visits with them so they are not alone, cook meals for their families, give good long hugs. But most importantly listen to what they ask for help with, and do those things.
Now take a deep breath.