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 Help Make the “Invisible Disease” Visible

    Earlier this week I shared the personal story of a friend of mine, Michael McCarty, who is suffering from lung cancer.  He wrote about his disease to raise awareness and funding for lung cancer research in the hopes that his story can make a difference in the search for a cure.

You see, despite the persistent stereotype that all lung cancer sufferers are smokers or former smokers, 20% of lung cancer patients are made up of individuals who have never smoked[i] – just like Michael.  This means that if each year almost 160,000 people die in the United States alone from lung cancer[ii], then up to 32,000 people could die from lung cancer in the United States this year even though they have NEVER smoked.

The really horrible truth is that in order to gain sympathy, funding and support for people suffering from a terrible disease, we can’t just focus on the horror of 160,000 people dying in the United States every year or the almost 1.8 million people worldwide who will contract this disease this year.[iii]  Instead we have to tiptoe around the idea that “some people deserve to have lung cancer because they smoked.”  We here at WorkerAnts disagree with this retributionist stance.  No one deserves to suffer from this disease.  Let us instead stand together with compassion and work towards raising awareness, support and funding for lung cancer research.

In support of Michael, a man who has chosen to turn his disease into an opportunity to help others by sharing his story and advocating breaking the stereotypes surrounding this horrific disease, we invite you to help us raise lung cancer awareness.  Below are some resources and ideas from around the world that that can help us make the so-called “Invisible Disease” visible.

  • Volunteer, participate in an event, or fundraise: Use your passion and time to work with an organization.  There are many worthy lung cancer alliances around the world.  Here are just a few:
    • The Lung Cancer Alliance (USA):  This national organization is solely dedicated to helping those with lung cancer. Visit the “Get Involved” page on their website and see how you can advocate to change government policies, participate in Lung Cancer Awareness month (which is November), or host a Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Vigil.
    • Lung Cancer Canada:  This is the only organization in Canada whose sole focus is to provide patient support and advocacy to those living with or at risk of lung cancer.  If you plan on being in Toronto on November 13, 2014 perhaps you can attend their fundraising gala to “celebrate hope, survivorship and major scientific progress against Canada’s most common cancer.”
    • The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation (UK):  The only organization in the UK solely dedicated to fighting lung cancer. They have an extensive list of events and activities and they provide free fundraising materials.
    • INSPIRE (Na vdih, center za zdravo zivljenje) (Slovenia):  This organization is solely dedicated to stopping the endemic of lung cancer in Slovenia.
    • Pulmonale (Portuguese Association Against Lung Cancer):  The national organization provides educational workshops, information and awareness raising activities.
    • CanSurvive (Egypt):  This organization works to raise awareness of the needs and challenges facing all patients of all kinds of cancer. They have also partnered with the Lung Cancer Alliance (USA) to bring the “Shine a Light on Lung Cancer” campaign to Egypt.
    • Educate Your Community:  Here are some organizations that can provide resources and ideas for how to raise awareness and advocate on behalf of lung cancer research.
      • Free To Breath provides information and resources to help you educate your community.
      • LUNGevity.org has an Advocacy Toolkit that you can download and a handy how to section on their site.
      • Global Lung Cancer Coalition has member organizations in 21 countries and their educational materials (including videos) and resources are appropriate for a variety of cultures and languages.
      • Cancer Research UK focuses on curing all kinds of cancer, including lung cancer, but they have amazing resources and research that you can use.  Also check out their impressive list of charity events and fundraising ideas.
      • Share Information through social media: 
        • Share this article
        • Share Michael’s story (link)
        • Share your story if you have a personal experience with lung cancer.
        • Share this video about Lung Cancer Awareness
        • Wear a Clear or White Ribbon:  Every cancer has a ribbon color; wearing a clear or white ribbon helps raise awareness for lung cancer. Clear is the original color of lung cancer since it is the “invisible” disease.
        • Participate in Lung Cancer Awareness Month: November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.  Below are a few events in November; check out your local organizations for activities you can participate in too!

Finally, whatever you do, tell others the truth about lung cancer and get your friends and family involved in raising awareness for this disease.  We all need to spread the word so that lung cancer research comes to the forefront and we can work to find a cure.



[i] Lung Cancer Alliance http://www.lungcanceralliance.org

[ii] National Center for Health Statistics; http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_04.pdf

[iii]International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization GLOBOCAN 2012: Estimate Cancer Incidence Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide in 2012 http://globocan.iarc.fr/Pages/fact_sheets_cancer.aspx

3 years ago