October may be breast cancer awareness month, but breast cancer is not the only cancer in need of awareness. I recently discovered an important movement, “WTF” (Where’s the Funding) for Lung Cancer? It turns out that lung cancer is the number one cancer killer and the least funded cancer. How can that be? Is the stigma attached to having lung cancer, due to a belief that, by smoking, the lung cancer patient brought it on him or herself, the problem? Would it help remove the stigma to realize that you don’t need to be a smoker to get lung cancer? In fact, “80% of new lung cancer cases are diagnosed in patients who have never smoked, or former smokers who quit decades ago.
The founder of WTF (you get the double entendre, right?) is Jennifer Windrum, whose mother, Leslie Lehrman, has inoperable and incurable Stage IV lung cancer. Jennifer’s mother never smoked. Jennifer was called to action by her mother’s experience and WTF was born. Its purpose is to chronicle her mother’s illness, bring awareness to the disease and increase funding. It underlines the gravity of the disease to read Jennifer’s words, “Cure? Sure, but we have major issues to tackle first. Until lung cancer becomes a treatable, manageable chronic disease, I will continue to loudly scream, “WTF” for Lung Cancer?”
Many, many years ago, I worked with a woman who got lung cancer and died from it. She left behind a husband and teenaged children. She was a smoker, so although I was horrified and saddened by her death, I thought it had nothing to do with me. It wasn’t until Dana Reeve, Christopher Reeve’s widow, was diagnosed and died from the same disease, that I had any idea non-smokers could get lung cancer too. Still, her death at age 44 seemed to be a shocking abnormality. Now I know better.
Now I know lung cancer kills more people than the next three deadly cancers combined, over three times as many men as are killed by prostate cancer, nearly twice as many women as are killed by breast cancer and an average of 437 people a day.
It’s time for all of us to become aware of this disease, because it can and does afflict anyone at any time. As cancer survivors, we have a responsibility to ourselves to be better educated and aware about all cancers. Go to Jennifer’s website and educate yourself about lung cancer. If you are a lung cancer survivor, the site is an amazing resource for information and support. Please let me know what you think about Jennifer’s movement.
Survival > Existence,
WTF Lung Cancer
THANK YOU so much, Debbie, for the blog post and care and concern. It means the world. I will be sure to let all WTF-ers know you are helping spread the word. Again, thank you isn’t enough. Hugz and continued advocacy together. Jen
You Are Very Welcome, Happy to Spread the Word!
I’ve been following your movement and am so impressed with your passion and the momentum it’s generated. I’m happy to do whatever I can to spread the word through WhereWeGoNow, which I created as a community for all cancer survivors to come together to talk about life beyond their diagnosis. As a community, we have to be aware of what’s going on with all cancers and do whatever it takes to increase awareness, reseach and funding where necessary.
We’re all in this together! All my best to your Mom.
Survival > Existence,
Thanks for following up on your commitment to cancer survivors of all types. As you know, over the last dozen or so years, my Dad has had prostate, lung and colon cancer, all “cured” via surgery (though I assume that they are somehow related and may be tied to his longtime cigarette smoking even though he stopped a couple decades ago). When cancer wasn’t enough to stop him, he developed Parkinson’s Plus (which is so not a positive, I don’t know why they can’t come up with a more accurate name) and he is dying by inches in front of my eyes, not a thing in the world I can do about it except make him as comfortable and secure as possible. And support my Mom, of course.
Sorry, getting off track! But your post reminded me that Dad, if he were still able to use a computer and communicate, would have been a great member of your site and I’m sure would have found great comfort in it. He had a small group – three friends – of fellow cancer survivors that helped him, but within a year, they had all passed away. One of the great things about the community you are building is that there is the opportunity to be part of a living growing community even though we lose individuals along the way. Dad didn’t reach out for another support group (and he was still in NJ so I wasn’t around to help get him into another one) and I wonder how many other people have been in the position of “Where do I go now?” when they’ve lost the friends they knew who had cancer.
Plano & Simple
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Your Father Would Have Been a Great Member of WWGN
Knowing your father as I did, I know he would have been a great member with lots of interesting comments to share on WWGN. I’m so sorry for his continuing decline and the losses it has foisted upon him, you and your Mom.
You’re so right that while Where We Go Now is a forum for ideas and commentary, it is also a supportive community for anyone dealing with life beyond a cancer diagnosis. I have yet to meet a survivor who has outlived the need for support from a community of others who get the journey. I really hope that anyone needing that community will join us here for support.
All my best to you, your Dad and your Mom.
Survival > Existence,