As you were probably aware, October was Breast Cancer Awareness month. It was impossible to miss; pink was everywhere. On social media, in the newspaper, on TV—I even saw our local firefighters wearing pink shirts while they cleaned their trucks recently. Breast cancer is a real threat to women, and increasing awareness, improving screening, and funding research of this disease should continue to be a priority.
But it shouldn’t be the ONLY priority, as far as women-killing cancers go. And it’s possible that it shouldn’t even be our biggest priority. Did you know that there is another cancer that kills roughly twice as many women each year as breast cancer?
It’s lung cancer.
In fact, lung cancer kills more women each year than breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers combined. And, 20 percent of its female victims—like Christopher Reeve’s wife, Dana—were never smokers. So why doesn’t lung cancer receive the attention that breast cancer does?
The main reason is that most people associate lung cancer with smoking and assume, in some way, that lung cancer victims are in part to blame for their disease. I admit, I felt this way for a long time. Until, that is, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer four years ago. Yes, she had been a smoker in her lifetime, though she wasn’t at the time of her diagnosis and hadn’t been for some time.
|My mom and her 1st grandson. He was 7 months old when she died.|
I just learned that November is lung cancer awareness month. Even now, almost four years after my mother’s death, I never knew that. I’m guessing that most people don’t know what lung cancer’s “color” is (white). And I’m guessing that most people don’t know it kills so many women each year. This needs to change. Lung cancer awareness should be on everyone’s minds in November, like breast cancer is in October.
But that’s not enough. The tobacco industry needs to be held accountable for the deadly effects its products have on women. And women of all ages—but especially teens and younger women, who are especially targeted by tobacco companies’ advertising—need to know that they are being preyed upon. Smokers who want to quit should be given the help that they need, rather than being expected to do it on their own, as many do. Economically speaking, our country needs to take further steps toward becoming independent of “Big Tobacco.” (I wish I had suggestions here, but I think I’d need another college degree to fully understand that!)
**UPDATED 11/11/12** On December 1, 2012, my 4-year-old son, Matthew, and I will be walking a 5K for lung cancer awareness in honor of my mom, his Grandma GG. If you'd like to donate to this important cause, please go here:
This article was originally posted as my fifth weekly entry as a contestant in Blogger Idol. To see the judges' comments, read it again here. And be sure to follow me on facebook and Twitter to find out about the next round of Blogger Idol, coming up next Wednesday!