Posted by: Teri Simon | 2012/11/04

Facts Before the Election

the factsI begin this evening’s blog, my friends, with a few updates: in the past two days, I’ve been informed that two fellow cancer warriors are in the final days of their journeys.  This makes me extremely sad, and adds to my anxiety as I head into this week, when, on Tuesday, I will have my scans, and will meet my “substitute” doctor, as Leora has gone on maternity leave.  I realize how quickly one’s health situation can change, and yes, it can as quickly change for the better as it can for the worse, but we tend to hear more about the latter than the former.  Which makes me nervous for Tuesday.  Thank goodness my wonderful brother will be with me!  My heart is with those who are leaving, and prayers for peace for their loved ones as well.

Health-wise:  I actually had a better week this past week, possibly because last Tuesday, despite the fact that my counts were good, we (the nurse practitioner, Lisa, and I) made the executive decision to forgo chemo in favor of just fluids, and switching me to an every-other-week chemo schedule.  The hope is that with me getting a break in between treatments (and getting fluids, too), my body won’t dip down as low as it was going on the previous schedule.  It’s great that the drugs are doing the job, but not so great when those same drugs make you feel lousier than the cancer itself!  Hopefully this will be just the right schedule.

Also, I can drive again (!), mostly because I can finally SEE again without wondering who smeared Vaseline on my glasses!  Last week, Dr. Bob Simon, the greatest optometrist in the universe, put tear duct plugs in my eyes, to help them retain more moisture.  He took one look at my eyes and declared them “a war zone,” and fixed me right up.  Very cool stuff!  So up until today, I was feeling kinda snazzy and all, enjoying visits on Friday from some dear friends, but today, maybe because I’d had sad news, maybe because I’d been busier than I’d been in a while, or maybe because I’m still reeling from the cost of the repair to my chairlift yesterday ($295!), today hasn’t been the best of days for me.  Aryia came over and gave me a massage, which really helped so much, and Marti just left with all of my glass recycling, which she promises to throw into the bins with full force in my honor, and that helps, too, but I’m just kind of “blah” today.  There are days like that, I suppose.  This, too, shall pass.

Perhaps part of the “blahs” I’m feeling has something to do with all this election folderol and fiddle-dee-dee.  I’m so sick of advertisements, bumperstickers, mail (a/k/a recycling) and posts on Facebook I could tear out my hair.  Well, if I had any to tear out.  It kind of falls out on its own these days.  The news items that talk about the facts and the fact checkers and the checkers for the fact checkers and a game of checkers and checking the checkers has just about put me over the edge!  I have kept my political views private for the most part (those of you who know me well know how I voted when I voted early), because there’s a group of facts and a situation of greater concern to me these days, these November days, these “National Lung Cancer Awareness Month” days.  So let me please give you a little pre-election list of facts that you can count on, courtesy of the National Lung Cancer Partnership and The LUNGevity Foundation. 

  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths, regardless of gender or ethnicity.
  • Lung cancer impacts one in 14 Americans and kills more than colorectal, breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancers combined.
  • Lung cancer kills almost twice as many women as breast cancer, and nearly three times as many men as prostate cancer.
  • About 55% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who never smoked or are former smokers.
  • Lung cancer accounts for 14% of all new cancer diagnoses, but 28% of all cancer deaths.
  • Each year in the US, approximately 220,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer.
  • African American males have the highest incidence of lung cancer and the highest death rate.
  • Five-year survival rates for lung cancer patients is about 16%, up just 2% in the past 40 years.
  • The least research funded cancer is lung cancer.

These facts are the facts I live with, day in and day out.  The part about never smoking comes up for me at least once a week,  as it did yesterday with the dude who repaired my chairlift.  I told him I had lung cancer and never smoked, all in one sentence, and it registered on his face.  You can see the shift in people you tell that you have lung cancer; they’re all ready to blame you for doing this to yourself, and then you say you never smoked and they’re all flustered.  Kind of like going to the polls and reading revisions to by-laws you’re supposed to vote on and trying to figure out why the heck it’s taken until 2012 for the language to change from “School Crossing Moms” to “School Safety Monitors” or some such nonsense.

For me, in the end, it’s about the Lung Cancer Facts, and the greatest, most frightening fact of all:  if you have lungs, you can get cancer in them.  It sucks, but it’s true.   And yes, you can make an impact on your world by taking part and voting in elections, but what can you actually do to help this problem, this terrible problem of lung cancer?  Well, here’s my goal for the month:  inspire everyone to help end the stigma of the lung cancer patient!  We simply have GOT to take smoking out of the equation!  Smoking is bad for you for myriad reasons, but it is NOT the only reason why people get lung cancer!  So I ask you:  speak up!  Tell people you know me, tell them your stories, tell them the smoking part is irrelevant.  Tell them to stop blaming the victims, even if they WERE smokers!  The attitude of “you brought this on yourself” is, I think (and I don’t have facts to back it up), the biggest reason why research funding is so sadly low for this dread disease, this number 1 cancer killer of Americans.  Talk sense to people, talk facts to people.  Participate in activities and/or donate to research if you like, but mostly, I ask this month especially, that you elect to help me end the stigma of the lung cancer patient.

I’m Teri Simon, The Flying Elephant, and I approved this message.

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Responses

  1. Cancer sucks! So sorry for your losses, and so sorry we all have to keep fighting so dang hard! I’m praying for you, too!

  2. Teri – I think of you often and how you so bravely keep on keepin on! A dear friend lost his mother to lung cancer 20 days after he was diagnosed. I hate all cancer but it was so tragic. Keep fighting!

  3. Thank you so much!

  4. Praying for you for tomorrow. Best of everything tomorrow.

  5. Amen!

  6. So glad you can see better. !!

    Cheryl

  7. Wow, Melanie! That’s an eye-opener!

  8. Between BOTH parties, close to 2 billion has been spent on the campaigns. More than all cancer research this year.

  9. You’ve got my vote 😜

    Thinking of you always with admiration and love!

    Diana

    Sent from my iPad

  10. I love you, Sheila, you Cancer Queen you!

  11. Two comments:

    1. Last year I heard you speak at the Breathe Hope reception for lung cancer survivors. You said that everyone is at risk for lung cancer because everyone has lungs. In all the years I’ve talked about lung cancer, that obvious fact had never occurred to me. Now I bring it up every time I talk with someone about lung cancer and the need for research. Not everyone who smokes will get lung cancer. Not everyone who gets lung cancer smoked. The thing they have in common is they all have lungs.
    2. I am praying that you are feeling the warm blanky of love and prayers that so many of us are sending you. Wrap it around you as you prepare for Tuesday.

    Hugs,
    Sheila

  12. Thanks, Susan! You rock!

  13. I posted a few of those lung cancer Facts on facebook to help spread the word. When you listen generously to people they can hear the truth in themselves, often for the first time. Rachel Naomi Remen

  14. I love you, too, felice!!!!

  15. Glad you can see again. I pray lung cancer gets the recognition it deserves and people change their views and treat cancer as the horrible disease it is. I am sorry about your two friends. May they not suffer as they make that journey to another place. Cancer really sucks
    as all diseases do. Love ya my friend. Good luck Tuesday. Please let me know the results. If you need anything, let me know.

  16. Even on a day full of blah’s you reach out, educate and inspire!! Your sign off made me laugh out loud–so thanks for that too. I couldn’t agree more–we each have a responsibility to help educate, demand funding, and remove the stigma of lung cancer. I love you Teri Simon…and I will be sending love, strength, thoughts and prayers on Tuesday (and leading up to Tuesday, and long after Tuesday for that matter….). xo

  17. Thank you for you are doing to call awareness to this disease.
    I have been trying to share everyday a fact about lung cancer too.
    The more people who understand that it is underfunded, under researched.and misunderstood I pray will help the cause.
    I can’t recall one movie or TV actor who does PSA’s about Lung Cancer or research or even fundraising. Stigma is just a bad word when it comes to lung cancer.


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