With all the media attention Movember is getting, I didn’t realize that November is also lung cancer awareness month. I found this article about lung cancer a very awakening read. In it, the author highlights that due to the well-known and established link between smoking and lung cancer people are less likely to be sympathetic to someone who develops this form of cancer. The natural assumption is that the patient is a smoker (or an ex-smoker) and therefore deserves to get cancer. However, we also need to consider that the research and the statistics also tell us is that you do not need to have smoked or currently smoke cigarettes to develop lung cancer. This is common knowledge (my assumption), yet survey results by Lung Cancer Canada found that, “35 per cent of Canadian women said they felt more sympathetic towards women with breast cancer than they do towards women with lung cancer.” I hate to tell you folks, but cancer is cancer, and we should never assume anything – that’s labeling and it helps no one.
The Canadian Cancer Society and its partners estimate that lung cancer now represents 13.8% and 13.3% of new cancer cases for men and women respectively (see figure). In a word: troubling. Lung cancer is second to prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women, and yet I didn’t even know November is lung cancer awareness month. Did you? True, Movember has its place with prostate cancer tipping the scales for new cancer cases in men, and it is a great way to raise awareness. I think we need to put our thinking caps on and find a better way to raise awareness about lung cancer. Perhaps we also need to be less judgmental and more supportive regardless of cancer type, which is the single most wonderful idea behind the Grow a Dream fundraiser. It does not discriminate against any type of cancer. We are very proud of the fact that 100% of the funds collected will go the Emergency Department at Juravinski Hospital – and the best part, we say how the money will be spent, and it won’t be on research, which is important too, but this fundraiser is about the people who arrive at the Juravinski Cancer Centre with cancer, their families, and finding a way to support them during the overwhelming stress of a cancer diagnosis. If this makes sense to you, why not click on the donate now link and support the patients and their families who walk into Juravinski hospital and receive a cancer diagnosis.