Did you Know Non-Smokers can get Lung Cancer? I Did.

Lung Cancer Survivor

2004-Posing with family at my benefit
2004-Posing with family at my benefit | Source

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Lung Cancer Awareness Month or (LCAM) is a national campaign dedicated to increasing attention to lung cancer issues by organizing rallies, distributing educational material, holding fundraising events, speaking to the media and contacting congress.

According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is the leading killer in both men and women in the U.S. More people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. In order to fight this tragic disease, the American Lung Association focuses on educating the public through comprehensive information about the disease and treatment options.

Another goal of the American Lung Association is to try to put a stop to the negative stigma that is associated with lung cancer. While the leading risk factor for lung cancer is smoking, patients should not be blamed or judged for getting this disease. The stigma of lung cancer can be a major barrier to the patient, caregivers and family members. The American Lung Association wants this "negative stigma defeated so we can help defeat the disease."



Why is Lung Cancer Awareness Month Important to Me

Why is Lung Cancer Awareness month important to me? I was only forty-one years old when I was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in February of 2004. Hearing those three scary words, "You have cancer," is something I will never forget. My twin sister by my side, we anxiously awaited the call about my lung biopsy. When the phone rang and I heard the doctor say, "I'm very sorry to tell you, you have lung cancer," I repeated his words out loud. My loving sister fell to the floor as the words echoed through the air like some sick joke. How could I have lung cancer I thought, I'm young and never smoked a cigarrette.

It doesn't matter if you smoke or don't smoke. Lung cancer can hit anyone for different reasons. As I said earlier, a major risk factor for developing lung cancer is smoking but here are the other risk factors: Exposure to radon gas or asbestos, being around second hand smoke and pollution. The doctors will never know exactly what caused my cancer but I have a pretty good idea. As a child, my parents were heavy smokers which was pretty common in the 60's and 70's. I remember enjoying the smell of a just lit cigarrette when mom and dad passed my bedroom in the morning. I also worked as a server in the restaurant business for many years when smoking in public was allowed.

It was a long hard journey but I was more than willing to fight for my life. I had surgery to remove the middle lobe of my right lung. A month later I went through grueling chemotherapy once a week and eventually radiation treatment. I was told that I had a 20-25% chance of surviving the first five years because the cancer had spread to a couple of my lymph nodes. Here I am, seven years cancer-free and loving every day God gives me.

Please help me spread the word that November is 'Lung Cancer Awareness Month' so we can fight this horrible disease.

Sincerely, Linda Rogers,

Non-Smokers and Lung Cancer

Did you know that non smokers can get lung cancer

See results without voting

Do you or someone you know have lung cancer

Have you known anyone fighting lung cancer

See results without voting

© 2011 Linda Rogers

More by this Author


Comments 48 comments

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

You make a wonderful spokesperson for lung cancer and I am so glad you are cancer free 7 years after your initial diagnosis!

The negative attitude of the general public in regards to lung cancer is an unfortunate reality as there are many lung cancer sufferers who, like yourself, never smoked.

My friend died from lung cancer 2 years ago after fighting it with several rounds of chemo, radiation and surgeries. She used to dread answering the question, "What kind of cancer do you have?" because when she told the truth the compassionate expression on the other person's face invariably changed from compassion to something she couldn't quite define but she knew she was being judged as having caused her own disease. She once confessed to me that when strangers who saw her hair loss asked that question she was tempted to answer, "Breast Cancer." I don't know if she ever did answer them that way, but I could understand why she would want to.

The sad part was that she had smoked for awhile when she was younger but had quit smoking 15 years earlier. Her mom was a chain smoker. Who's to say she wouldn't have come down with lung cancer from the initial exposure as an infant and child? Or from toxins in the air in the cities in which she lived? In individual cases we never know the exact cause so the public needs to remain compassionate and avoid the assignment of blame. Like all cancers, we need to find a cure for lung cancer.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Wow HBN-that breaks my heart that your friend was judged during a time she needed compassion,love and support. I have had my share of reactions and I think that's why I always feel like I have to say I was a non-smoker. I still thinks it's sad that smokers are judged and no one deserves to be treated critically. Cancer stinks and I don't care what kind you have, you deserve support. I am so sorry your friend lost the battle but I'm sure you hold onto to your memories of her. Thanks very much for being the first to comment on my hub. It means a lot :-)


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Dr Oz on TV did a show on lung cancer and cautioned people not to judge the person. Even if someone smoked 3 packs a day, they do not deserve that awful disease. We must learn to remove all judgements. Your story is very inspiring and will, I pray, help many others. The is perfect also. Thank you.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

It's difficult enough to survive a disease like lung cancer without having to be judged by others. Thank you, Linda, for this informative hub and for stressing that point. May you continue to be healthy and happy - just like Louie's song.


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX

Great Hub written from a very personal perspective. Keep up the good work.

The Frog


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

I can't believe I missed that show Hyphenbird. I'm usually drawn to shows that are discussing lung cancer. Good for Dr. Oz for talking about the stigma of lung cancer. I have even had a few people turn their nose down at me when they heard the type of cancer I had. The last thing you need when your facing a life threatening disease is people being critical and judging you. I heard many sad stories from people who had been smokers in my support group and it just broke my heart. I really appreciate you coming by :-)


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Oh, thank you so much drbj for your nice comment. I do hope this hub will make people aware of this stigma. I didn't realize it until I was diagnosed. I feel for the smokers who get the worst of it.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Thank you kindly Frog Prince. I am so blessed to be cancer free. Life is awesome and the cancer journey was just a little bump in the road.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Congrats on beating the cancer. We weren't so lucky. My husband's mom got hit by a car and her right side was so black and blue. Luckily for an old woman it wasn't worse. However a couple of years later she developed a growth on the pleura of the lung on that same side. It took only a couple of months and she died. It was in 2006.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

I am so sorry to hear about your mother in-law,Gypsy Rose. What a sad thing that she got through the trauma of a car accident and then this happened. Life can be so unfair sometimes. I really appreciate you coming by and reading my hub.


nadejda13 profile image

nadejda13 5 years ago

One of the effective method for lung cancer treatment is Catalytic therapy. It's similar to Photodynamic therapy but does not use laser- just catalyst. I described more about this method in one of my hubs.


stayingalivemoma profile image

stayingalivemoma 5 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

wow, what a heartbreaking story. I am glad that you have the courage to share with everyone. I think life's little mishaps should be shared, so that others can be aware and learn from you. God Bless you.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Hi Nadejda1-I have been reading about this new treatment. I'll have to check out your hub and read more about it. Thanks so much for coming by :-)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

Thank you Linda for this hub. I wasn't aware of Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Congratulations on your progess and I wish you many more years of good health. I read about new, advanced and easier treatments quite often for LC. Voted up and will share!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Aww, thanks for your warm words stayingalivemoma. We all have struggles in our lives and it's how we deal with them that makes a difference. I had so much love and support during this time that it really helped my attitude and outlook. All is well now and I look at it as a bump in the road. (A big bump). LOL


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Linda I will be more than happy to share this. I lost a cousin to lung cancer. She was a smoker but had quit five years prior to being diagnosed. Cancer is a terrible disease as you and I well know. I am so happy that you too are a survivor and are able to share your story with us.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

You are so welcome Sunshine. I am a big believer in sharing things on hubs that can help others that may be struggling with the same thing or know someone that is. I'm glad to hear about advanced treatments. The chemo was the hardest thing for me because I became so sick. The surgery is what I feared the most and it did take a while to recoup. Thanks so much for coming by and making me feel so comforted and supported.


molometer profile image

molometer 5 years ago

Hello Linda,

What a shocker to be told you had such a dreadful disease. I am so happy that you have battled your way through for very selfish reasons. I got to meet you.

You are a great inspiration to us all and I am proud to be in your company. I applaud your courage and look forward to many more years with you as a friend.

Michael

Shared and every button pressed.


arusho profile image

arusho 5 years ago from University Place, Wa.

This is a great campaign. My distant cousin's mother died from lung cancer a few years ago. She was not a smoker and was healthy, they are not sure why she got it. But it was devastating and quick.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 5 years ago from America

My husbands sister died of lung cancer last year. She was 54. Great hub.


nadejda13 profile image

nadejda13 5 years ago

Thanks for your message Minnetonka Twin. I have a great experience with Reiki and cancer as well. And not only with the people who got Reiki from me, but also with cancer cells. There a lot of doubts on Reiki effectiveness for cancer. Most peopple believe that Reiki is only placebo or self hypnosis kind of thing. But my experiments with cancer cells prove that even cells, which do not have mind and because of it can't hypnotize themselves, get great results with Reiki. Reiki kills cancer cells like chemotherapy does but without side effects.

Unfortunately I couldn't publish this results in scientific journals because all of them deny it under some funny explanations.

Of course, if people will learn that Reiki can cure cancer and because of it can prevent cancer with regular treatment who will buy expensive chemotherapy who will need surgery, etc.

People will simple get Reiki attunement and do self treatment which is beneficial not only to cancer but for all area of life.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Thank you sooo much Susan for being willing to share this. Lung cancer is a tough one especially because of it's evasive treatments. The biopsy really hurt when they put the needle in. Yikes, then I had my lung collapse soon after, so I had a chest tube put in. Double ouch on that one. Felt like someone put a knife in my chest and I'm not exaggerating. The surgery was pretty tough and chemo was very hard on me. Radiation was so easy for me. It was like going in to take a quick cat nap. I think I was already so tired that I was use to that symptom but at least I wasn't nauseous like I was from chemo. Wow, I just spilled my guts and got a lot off my chest. Hope that's ok-It felt really good. LOL Thanks for reading my story Susan.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Wow Michael-I am truly touched by your kind words. I know we will continue our friendship for many years. I feel great now and my oncologist said that the type of lung cancer I had, which was the less aggressive one-Wants to come back within the first three years and your odds keep going up every year after that. Now she basically says that it would be odd if it came back at this point. YIPPEE, YAHOO! Happy Thanksgiving Michael and thank you for your friendship here. :-)


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Hi Arusho-I wonder if she was around second hand smoke? Also, pollution can be very hard on our lungs and some people are just more susceptible than others. I'm an identical twin and I got it and my sis didn't, Thank God. I really appreciate you reading my story. Have a great day.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Oh Moonlake-I am so sorry to hear about your sister in-law. She was so young too :-( Hopefully they will find a cure and/or better preventive strategies. I thank you very much for reading my story about this important campaign.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I'm sorry for what you had to go through, Linda, but I'm so happy about the positive outcome. Thank you for publicizing the stigma attached to the disease - whether or not someone is a smoker, they need help and sympathy if they get lung cancer, not judgement!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Nadejda-That is so intriguing to hear about your studies and experiences with Reiki and cancer cells. I sure would've loved not getting the disease by using an alternative treatment like Reiki but also not having to suffer with all the debilitating side effects from the traditional therapies like chemo. I really appreciate your comments and support.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Thank you so much Alicia for understanding the importance of not judging a person that gets lung cancer. It's hard enough and scary enough to be diagnosed with the big "c." To have to deal with being looked down on for getting lung cancer just makes a hard time more of a nightmare. Bless you for understanding and for your kind comments.


suhana16 profile image

suhana16 5 years ago from Delhi

Thank you linda for sharing this information. I was not aware.Have a healthy and wealthy life ahead :)


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Thank you kindly suhana, I really appreciate that. Healthy and wealthy-Doesn't get better than that. :-)


DexisView profile image

DexisView 5 years ago from New England

Good luck with your mission. Congrats on your cancer free status. We should all be lucky enough to remember that every day is a gift!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

I was not aware that November was lung cancer awareness month. Thank you for sharing that fact. I do agree that many are quick to judge when a person has lung cancer. I've heard remarks like, " They asked for it, smoking ." When really many like you, never smoked. I'm happy for you. Best Wishes..


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Thanks DexisView. Yes, Thanksgiving takes on a new meaning for me after this battle but we are all survivors of something. Have a great Thanksgiving :-)


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Always Exploring-Always lovely to see you at one of my hubs. I am so glad that you read about November being lung cancer month. Thank you for your well wishes and have a great Thanksgiving my friend :-)


Linda Myshrall 5 years ago

You are in the powerful position of being able to speak and educate like few can, and it is wonderful that you have the kindness and generosity to share your journey. What incredible courage you have. Congratulations on your 7 cancer free years and here's to many, many more. Up, useful, wonderful. Linda


damian0000 profile image

damian0000 5 years ago from Belfast

What a great hub and also a great picture of you and your family!

It's clear you are a fighter, not just for yourself and your own situation but also on behalf of other people who are affected. It would be very easy for you to be bitter about all of this as lung cancer, as you say, has a stigma attached to it because most people believe that only smokers get it and that, to some extent, it is self-inflicted. But you aren't, instead your words and your attitude are an inspiration!

Fair play and good luck to you M. Twin, I hope you have 77 more years of rude good health :-)


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

Linda-Thanks so much for your kind words to me. I always hope to help others with my hubs. I appreciate all the buttons you pushed for my story. Have a Thanksgiving full of blessings.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota Author

You are too sweet Damian. I really appreciate your comments to me and thank you for your well wishes of 77 more years. Hee Hee. I would go down as the oldest person ever. I hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving Damian. Gobble Gobble.


Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 4 years ago

Minnie ~ Glad you are out of the woods and live to tell others. We need spokespeople to influence every generation and motivate people to work on self healing. It's never too late and especially with lung cancer, because even if a person smokes, once they stop the lungs start to heal. Blessings, Debby


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

An uplifting hub- I had heard you didn't need to smoke to get it. In the UK there was an entertainer called Roy Castle who had lung cancer and he blamed it on entertaining in smoky pubs and clubs- I am so glad that you are well and enjoying life. God bless you


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Hi Debby and thanks for coming by my hub. Your right that it's never too late for smokers to quit as the lungs like other organs in our bodies, heal themselves.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Hi CASE1Worker-Yes, you are right that even non-smokers can get lung cancer. Dana Reeve, the wife of the late Christopher Reeve, died from lung cancer. Although she never smoked, she sung in clubs where there was smoking. She actually had the smokers tumor because of all the second hand smoke.


Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 4 years ago

There are many other causes for lung cancer, so even non-smokers may contract this disease. Asbestos is one factor.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Hi Debby-Yep, radon and pollutants in our air. Now wonder so many of us get this disease :-0


Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 4 years ago

I just read an article on Natural News about microwave popcorn that emits chemical causing lung cancer. Trash that microwave.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Ha, my microwave died a few months ago and I actually don't miss it at all. I never felt right about microwaving, even though it was easier. Ya, I heard about that popcorn thing too. I like popping corn the old fashioned way. Popped in a pan or my popcorn popper. Way tastier and obviously much safer too. Have a great night Debby :-)


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

I have known several people with lung cancer, and I salute your survival and your desire to educate others. Christopher Reeves' late wife, Dana, had lung cancer although she was a non-smoker.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 2 years ago from Minnesota Author

Hi Flourish-I was working out on a treadmill at a fitness place when they announced Dana's death on t.v. I actually screamed because it really hit home with me. I thought she was gonna make it. She actually had a smoker's tumor from all the smoke she inhaled working in smoky bars and restaurants as a entertainer. I was lucky to have a non-smoker tumor which is less aggressive. I am so blessed to be almost ten years cancer free. My odds were not good, but here I am.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working