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Spotlight on: LUNGevity – The Meaning of Lung Cancer Awareness Month

People who aren’t directly impacted by lung cancer may not know that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

What exactly does that mean and what can people do during November to raise awareness about lung cancer?

Lung Cancer Awareness Month (LCAM) is a national movement originally created by lung cancer organizations, survivors and advocates to dispel the stigmas associated with having lung cancer and to raise awareness of the disparities in lung cancer research during the month of November. This is done in most part by making the general public aware of the lung cancer survival rates and lack of funding for research, and putting a face to the disease.

Most people don’t know that 1 in 15 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer and that over 60% of people who are diagnosed are never smokers or people who quit smoking decades ago. It’s the deadliest cancer killer, killing twice as many women as breast cancer and three times as many men as prostate cancer.

As VP of Support and Survivorship for LUNGevity, I support and get to know a lot of lung cancer fighters. I have supported a patient as young as 16 with stage 4 lung cancer. It can happen to anyone with lungs. LCAM is about sharing the facts about the disease and need for funding, informing the public and talking to media,; it’s about offering resources to patients and providers and highlighting advocacy opportunities to change the public’s perception and outcomes for patients.

LCAM It’s not about smoking cessation or tobacco control. Some people mistake LCAM for an opportunity to talk about the hazards of tobacco and promote smoking cessation. That’s something that we should encourage people to do all year long. But that’s not lung cancer awareness. That would be lung cancer prevention, and only then it would pertain to just 10% of smokers.

Join LUNGevity, survivors and advocates across the nation as we unite to shine a spotlight on lung cancer this month.

Here are some ways you can help make a difference this month:

  • Tell someone that November is lung cancer awareness month.
  • Take a picture with a fact sign or your LUNGevity ‘Bandy’ wristband and let’s make it viral.
  • Share the facts about this disease and let people know that if they breathe, they can get lung cancer too.
  • Distribute materials in and around your area to hospitals and support organizations
  • Share our articles, blogs and videos over social media.
  • Let people know about LUNGevity’s comprehensive lung cancer 101 website
  • Let people impacted my lung cancer know about LUNGevity programs and services
  • Participate in Twitter Chats
  • Create a new event or volunteer or participate in events in your area
  • Volunteer to be a buddy for a patient or caregiver
  • Become a volunteer Social Media Ambassador

Let’s raise awareness this November in honor of the 435 people who die of lung cancer each and every day and the 220,000 people in America who are living with it.

 

Spotlight on LUNGevity: Cancer and Stress

(Editor’s Note: LUNGevity is one of our esteemed partners. This leading organization has for mission to make “an immediate impact on increasing quality of life and survivorship of people with lung cancer by accelerating research into early detection and more effective treatments, as well as providing community, support, and education for all those affected by the disease.”)

Stress affects all of us in one way or another. By definition, stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

A new year presents new challenges for people on top of everyday stressors. Whatever your life challenges are, there are ways to manage your stress so that it doesn’t become harmful to your health. This is especially important for those of us who have had cancer.

Some experts say that is the link between cancer and stress—if stress decreases the body’s ability to fight disease, it loses the ability to kill cancer cells.

Stress doesn’t only make us feel awful emotionally,” says Jay Winner, MD, author of “Take the Stress Out of Your Life” and director of the Stress Management Program for Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, Calif. “It can also exacerbate just about any health condition you can think of.”

Stress may worsen or increase risk of obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression and heart disease as well. People fighting cancer may feel stress about what their bodies are going through, what their families are going through, uncertainty about cancer treatment, financial and emotional concerns.

Here are 5 things people who have had or are living with cancer can do to reduce their stress.

1)     Get Informed

Becoming well educated about your health conditions, treatment options and symptom management may reduce stress. While too much information may feel overwhelming to some, knowing your disease, recognizing your symptoms and where to get help for your side effects may help you feel more secure and supported in your cancer treatment.

2)     Express Yourself

Talk about how you’re feeling. Join a support group. Talk to family members and friends. For some who aren’t great talkers—write about your feelings in a journal or express yourself in artistic ways. Expressing to others about how you’re feeling may reduce tension and stress

3)     Get Moving

Exercise can help reduce stress. Activities such as walking can also help to relieve pent-up energy. For those who have physical limitations, light movement of arms and body can also help with circulation and reduce stress.

4)     Be Kind to Yourself and Others

Take breaks when you can. Eat nutritious foods, get plenty of sleep, and be kind and gentle on yourself—you deserve it.  Helping others can also make you feel good about yourself. Survivors in our LifeLine Support Program have reported that helping patients who were newly diagnosed actually helped them to feel better about themselves and what they had to go through with cancer.

5)     Ask for Help

There are resources available that can help you with practical and emotional issues surrounding your cancer. Start with your doctor and patient navigator. Sometimes an oncology social worker is the one who has a list of resources available in your area. Ask for help from family and friends who can step in to help with practical needs. If you have a hard time asking for help, designate a caregiver or advocate who can find you the help you need.

Katie Brown

Content courtesy of LUNGevity