by Lynne Eldridge MD, reprinted from About.com
People can make insensitive comments to anyone suffering from an illness, but the stigma of lung cancer opens an extra door of vulnerability for those going through lung cancer treatment. “I didn’t know you were a closet smoker.” “My cousin Bill had lung cancer and he died.” Most of the time, people make these comments innocently without thinking; they don’t know what to say, are voicing their own fears about developing lung cancer, or are simply ignorant about the disease. Once in awhile, we encounter people that truly lack empathy or are downright rude.
Going through cancer treatment is a challenge enough, without adding the stress and hurt feelings that can come as a result insensitive comments. What can you do to minimize the impact of these remarks as you go through lung cancer treatment?
Surround Yourself With Supportive People
Surrounding yourself with loving, non-judgmental people is the first step in handling insensitive comments. People that know your situation well, can empathize, and provide unconditional support, help you focus on your treatment. Those who are less familiar with your illness or your methods of coping are less likely to respond in a way that nourishes your spirit.
Have a Spokesperson That Can Speak For You
Lung cancer treatment can be tiring, and the last thing on your list might be trying to figure out how to deal with insensitive comments. Talk openly with your loved ones ahead of time, anticipating less than supportive remarks that may come your way. Your loved ones can then shelter you by responding in a fashion that answers those comments, without starting a series of questions in your own mind. “There are many causes of lung cancer.” "I am sorry your cousin died from lung cancer but we are very optimistic that the treatment Jim has chosen will be effective, and could really use your prayers and support.”
Believing in, and loving yourself can head off many comments before they ever occur. When others see you fighting your cancer they are more likely to encourage you in your treatment. If they see you blaming yourself, they are more likely to join the cause and add to the blame. Nourish your own self-respect. If you don’t appear to be questioning what you could have done to prevent your cancer, or what will happen tomorrow, others might be less likely to make a comment…maybe.
Don’t Become Defensive
Fighting your lung cancer requires your energy now. Don’t allow hurtful comments from others to drag you down and put you in a defensive mode. Some comments may be deserving of an honest response, and possibly even a response that the remark was hurtful, but don’t set yourself up for a debate on what you might have done differently in the past. We can’t change the past, but we can focus on present treatment.
If the Comment Lingers in Your Thoughts, Try Relaxation
Some people find self-affirmation helpful as a method to build them up and get past the pain of insensitive comments. Relaxation techniques can return your focus to what is important –- maximizing the results of your treatment. A simple method of relaxation that can be done anywhere is visualization.
Educate the Ignorant
Sometimes it is best to ignore inappropriate comments, or have someone else speak for you. If you feel up to it, the best way to raise awareness and educate the public about lung cancer, is through the words of those who have been living with the disease. Let these individuals know that there are many causes of lung cancer, and that unconditional support is what you really need to fight your disease.
Maintain a Sense of Humor
When you are irritated when someone asks you once again how long you smoked (if you ever did), picture asking him or her a similar question were they diagnosed with cancer. “How long have you been…” Fill in the blank: obese, sedentary, addicted to tanning, obnoxious.
Have a Few Snappy Comebacks
My mother always taught me that 2 wrongs don’t make a right, but in the case of a stinging comment or particularly nasty remark, venting your frustration on the source might be just what the doctor ordered. Having a few snappy comebacks may help you dismiss some of these remarks before they penetrate your thoughts and leave you fuming silently. In response to a comment about smoking to a lung cancer patient, our About.com guide to surgery actually heard someone say “Why thank you, I didn’t know smoking could cause cancer, thank you for telling me, now I know I deserve cancer!”
Many of those insensitive comments that fester in your mind, have already left the mind of the deliverer. Don’t dwell on them. Address the remark, ignore it, or whatever, but let it go and forgive the one that was insensitive. Unresolved resentment won’t change the one that shared the comment, it will only poison you.
In his second visit to the Lung Cancer Living Room, Dr. David Gandara of UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, discusses how your cancer is unique and that your approach to treating it should be too. He talks about discovering your 'molecular fingerprint' and how that information will help guide you through your unique cancer 'journey'. He also talks about some of the latest findings regarding "Tumor Darwinism"- how your cancer's molecular signature can evolve over time, as well as some of the latest research funded by the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation using mouse models to test new forms of treatment. He closes with a discussion of the importance of getting involved in clinical trials. The bottom line he says is that empowered patients live longer. It is a visit filled with lots of useful detailed information, and a clear message of hope and progress.
Learn more about The Lung Cancer Living Room here.
Last year, as part of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Stanford physicians got together to create and share a message of hope and educate the public about this devastating disease. Please take about four minutes to watch this video and share it with friends and family
A heart-felt "Thank You" to the Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford Hospitals and Clinics, Liat Kobza, and Todd Holland for producing this EXCELLENT video.
The Chick Running From New York to San Francisco @greatlungrun @jillslegacy @bonniejaddario #lungcancerRead Now
October 23rd Update: Check out Kelcey on TV's "The Doctors" HERE.
***The following article was written by Kelcey Harrison and published on The Huffington Post on July 31st, 2012.***
Kelcey is a native San Franciscan and is a major marathoner and lung cancer advocate. On July 30th 2012, after leaving her job at New York County’s District Attorney’s office, the 24 year old Harvard grad set out on her Great Lung Run – a 3,500-mile run from New York’s Times Square to downtown San Francisco. Harrison expects to arrive in November 2012 and will be blogging and tweeting her adventures until then.
I don't know if I am in denial, am extremely naive, or if I truly am confident that this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing right now, but for some reason the fact that I've started running 30 miles a day and won't stop until I reach San Francisco doesn't seem to stress or scare me. Maybe it's just that crazy people don't realize they're that crazy?
I'm just your average 24-year-old who grew up in San Francisco, went to Harvard University, and moved to New York soon after college. For the last two years I worked at the New York County District Attorney's Office. Although I had the best time working there, I realized that law school was not really the route I wanted to take, and I was feeling a pull to make a change coupled with a very strong desire to contribute more to Jill's Legacy, I began thinking about some new options.
This is where I break from the normal... The idea that I came up with was to run from New York to San Francisco to raise money and awareness for lung cancer. Lots of people asked, why? Couldn't I have done something a little less risky? But for me, it made perfect sense. I am using a skill that I have been blessed with -- running long-distance -- to make a difference and to draw people's attention to a topic that deserves greater discussion, awareness, and funding. I am doing something really big and out there, which was what Jill was all about.
Jill and I first met when we attended kindergarten together. We went to school together from kindergarten through high school and remained good friends through college. While we were in school, there was a group of about five of us that was inseparable. She was a friend who was always there for me and had been in my life for so long that I always expected her to be around for life's big moments.
When she was diagnosed with lung cancer at just 21 years old, it was a huge shock. I certainly did not know how to handle it, but she did. She lived with more grace, determination, strength, and joy than most people will ever demonstrate in their lifetimes. After her diagnosis she did a lot of advocacy work with the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. In the last year of her life, Jill was named Pac-10 Women's Athlete of the Year, she graduated Cal Berkeley with a 4.0 and she led the Cal Women's crew team to a national championship. A few weeks after, Jill passed away. After her passing a group of young people with connections to Jill and/or the foundation formed Jill's Legacy, an advisory board to the foundation. Our goal is to mobilize young people to use their voices and power to raise awareness for lung cancer and to really start a movement to demand a change.
Our goal is to debunk the stigma that faces lung cancer patients. The common belief that lung cancer is a smoker's disease or one that only affects older people is wrong. The first question people always ask in response to a diagnosis is, "Oh, you were a smoker?" The underlying message that comes across with this question is the idea that lung cancer patients somehow brought the disease upon themselves and so it is the last disease to get funding for research. This has to change. Nobody deserves to get cancer for any reason and, of equal importance no one deserves to get a disease for which there simply is not enough support. The survival rate for lung cancer has not changed in 40 years and that fact simply boggles my mind. With the technology we have today, there should be better options for early detection and treatment so that fewer lives will be lost. Why aren't people talking about this! For those of us who knew Jill, it drives us nuts.
So, my journey has begun and I already have so much to share! Follow my Twitter account, as I will be Tweeting the wild adventures and characters I encounter along the way.
I can't articulate how thankful I am for all of the support I have already received. I am already overwhelmed by the responses. We have raised over $100,000 since announcing the Great Lung Run just one month ago. I would be so appreciative of any support that readers can offer, whether that be in the form of a wave, a tweet or a penny. To support, visit www.thegreatlungrun.com, follow me on Twitter, or email me at Kelceyharrison@thegreatlungrun.com.
Bringing HOPE Home to Your Living Room through USTREAM on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 5:30 p.m. PDT (8:30 p.m. EDT)
SAN FRANCISCO, June 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "There's a breast cancer support group on every corner you turn in the world," says Bonnie J. Addario, founder of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF) and the Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute (ALCMI) and 8-year Lung Cancer survivor, "That's the way it should be. However, for Lung Cancer, until this very moment, support was rare and hard to find."
On Tuesday, June 19th, all of that is changing. Support for Lung Cancer will be available to every Lung Cancer patient and their families in their very own living rooms. It's easy access! Go to www.ustream.tv and search for "lung cancer living room" and join the real fight to end Lung Cancer.
Every third Tuesday of each month, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. PDT–BRINGING HOPE HOME Patient Educational Series–delivers the top thought leaders, Lung Cancer specialists, physicians and researchers along with up-to-date industry breakthrough information and possibilities right into your living room. This unrestricted forum covers all topics from diagnosis to fear to HOPE, where to get help, molecular testing, proteomics/genomics, early detection, personalized medicine, clinical trials, the latest advancements in blood tests, surgical equipment, new therapies, drug discoveries, nutrition—you name it—the Lung Cancer Living Room covers it. And, there is truly nothing like one-on-one advice and support from patients who are living with Lung Cancer. It's all part of the BJALCF Patient 360 Program where patients come first and the road to surviving Lung Cancer is the ONLY road they're going to accept.
The speaker line-up begins with Trever G. Bivona, MD, PhD–University of California San Francisco discussing the landscape of Lung Cancer from diagnosis to survival. The 2012/2013 line-up includes but is nowhere limited to David Gandara, MD–UC Davis, D. Giorgio Scagliotti, MD, PhD–University of Torino, David P. Carbone, MD, PhD–Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Pasi A. Janne, MD, PhD–Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, James L. Mulshine, MD–Rush University, Shane Dormady, MD–El Camino Hospital (to name just a few) on the BJALCF Patient 360 "dream team" fighting to save your life!
The Foundation's Lung Cancer Olympians from the physician side are dedicated heroes working around the clock to save lives, but the true celebrities, forerunners, and gold medalists are the Lung Cancer Living Room survivors, who are living combatants of Lung Cancer and willing to share with the world, their stories and "how-to" BRING HOPE HOME.
What people are saying about the Living Room:
"Keep up the good work you are doing–you make a difference."—Love, MaryAnn
"This new drug I'm on has been out for less than a year. I get to know these drugs from the Living Room. When Dr. Ganesh Krishna from Palo Alto Medical Center came to speak and talked about a new technology, he said most doctors wouldn't even refer you to it because they don't even know it exists. I had never left a meeting so knowledgeable and so hopeful about having options now." —Brian
"I put myself into an international Lung Cancer study because I was at high-risk in 2004. I was very fortunate because it was found very early. I had a lobectomy. My bottom right lung was removed. I was stage 1A. I am watched very closely now and I feel very, very fortunate to be part of this group."—Sally
"I was diagnosed with Stage 3 mesothelioma in January 2009. I met up with Dr. Thierry Jahan who put together a treatment protocol for me and in March I had my right lung removed and part of my pleural lining was removed and I started on a regimen of chemotherapy. I'm in good shape now, all my treatments ended in October 2009. I have had subsequent CT scans and all my scans are clean and Bonnie has asked me to share with you some new information. I started to go to a pain specialist and she's terrific and she has me on Lyrica®. I have a lot of pain issues because of my surgery and radiation…but I'm now doing a lot more things that I used to do before I went to her." —David
"Thank you for joining us, from our living room to yours…we are all living with Lung Cancer and our goal is to bring HOPE into your home. Empowered patients live longer and our message is simple….we want YOU to LIVE."—Bonnie J. Addario
Tune in on Tuesday, June 19th for questions, HOPE, and answers to surviving Lung Cancer and LIVING WITH LUNG CANCER.
About the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation
BJALCF is one of the largest philanthropies (patient-founded, patient-focused, and patient-driven) devoted exclusively to eradicating Lung Cancer through research, early detection, education, and treatment. The Foundation works with a diverse group of physicians, organizations, industry partners, individuals, survivors, and their families to identify solutions and make timely and meaningful change. BJALCF was established on March 6, 2006 as a 501© (3) non-profit organization. www.lungcancerfoundation.org
About the Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute (ALCMI)
ALCMI was established in 2008 as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization with the ultimate goal of significantly impacting survival by directly catalyzing and accelerating discovery of new and more effective treatment options for all lung cancer patients. Presently, ALCMI has 14 academic and community medical centers in the United States and Europe closely collaborating on cutting edge research initiatives.
For patient information about the Living Room, contact Danielle Hicks, Patient Services and Empowerment, 650.670.6045 or email@example.com
For sponsorship, partnership and speaking engagement opportunities, contact Daniela Gasparini, EVP Strategic Initiatives, 650.296.6959 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For press inquiries, contact Sheila Von Driska, Communications, 415.357.1278 email@example.com
Special thanks to PennTV, www.pentv.tv, Channel 26. San Mateo County, California and sponsors:Biodesix and Genentech.
SOURCE Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation
The Caring Ambassadors Lung Cancer Program announces their free online resource for lung cancer patients and their loved ones: Lung Cancer Choices. Empower yourself with knowledge.
Thank you, Caring Ambassadors, for producing this very valuable, informative publication!
You can download the complete book in .pdf form by right-clicking here and saving it to you computer.
Lung Cancer "Living Room" Support Group
If you are a newly diagnosed lung cancer patient, or a patient in any place in your diagnosis and you are looking for support, patient education and empowerment, help in obtaining second opinions with some of the foremost thought leaders in the world, or just need an informed ear to bend, contact Danielle Hicks, Director of Patient Advocacy at The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF), to learn more.
This monthly support group welcomes patients, survivors, families and friends. The hope is that during the time together, we will share stories, talk through difficulties, give advice that only someone who really knows can give, raise awareness and offer support. The group also features guest speakers and some of the foremost thought leaders in the world on lung cancer.
The Lung Cancer "Living Room" meets on the third Tuesday of every month in San Carlos, CA. However, anyone one can join and participate from anywhere in the world via live streaming and chat on UStream.
For more information on attendig in person or via UStream, contact Danielle.
Last night, I attended my first "Living Room" session from my laptop in the kitchen of my home outside Atlanta, Georgia. I was amazed at what a wonderful and effective resource this is - from an emotional as well as an informational perspective. You will not be dissapointed.
President - The Joan Gaeta Lung Cancer Fund (an affiliate of BJALCF)
Help Get the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act Passed! Contact your Senators and Representative Today!Read Now
The Joan Gaeta Lung Cancer Fund advocate Jackie Archer is traveling to Washington DC by invitation to speak with Congressmen, Senators, and others about the need for the early detection of lung cancer. A lung cancer survivor herself, Jackie's cancer was detected early by accident - literally. It took a head-on car crash and a trip to the emergency room for doctors to discover her tumor early enough. Each year, nearly 160,000 lung cancer patients are not so "lucky". Jackie will be taking the time in DC to network with anyone and everyone to help make a difference. Thanks, Jackie!
One thing that YOU can do is to contact every Senator and Congressman from your great state and ask them to support the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act (HR 1394).
Below is a list of co-sponsors in the Senate and the House that have already agreed to support the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act. As you can see, we need additional sponsors!