I want to see cures for ALL cancers.
In most cases, we can’t know for certain what caused an individual’s cancer, meaning we can’t determine exactly what caused their normal cells to mutate and become cancerous. Since we don’t know all the causes, we can’t PREVENT all cancers. All we can do is reduce our risk. Because we all need to eat and breathe, and our world contains toxins known and unknown, we’ve all likely done something that increases our risk of getting cancer.
Smoking is a risk factor for 14 types of cancer, and affects every organ in the body. I support anti-tobacco campaigns to educate and hopefully prevent more people (especially young people) from consuming any tobacco product. I support compassionate smoking cessation efforts to help people find motivation to quit if they did start. I hope people who did use tobacco (and those who love them) can forgive and move on to healthier lifestyles.
But I also recognize that tobacco is more addictive than heroin or cocaine. According to the American Cancer Society, the best way to quit for most people is some combination of medicine, a method to change personal habits, and emotional support. Unfortunately, many smokers who have the desire and motivation to quit lack the tools and support necessary to quit.
Humans are not perfect. Up to 90% of smokers began before age 18–when we all make risky choices for the wrong reasons–and became addicted. But we’ve all made decisions that could put our health at risk. I’ve made my share: pulling all-nighters to study for finals, consuming cola drinks and chocolate for energy during long hours on a tough aerospace proposal, accepting a high-stress job. I knew these weren’t the healthiest choices, but I did them anyway. Does that mean I deserve a terminal illness? If a world-class athlete was fatally injured while competing in the Olympics, would we shrug in acceptance because they chose a high-risk sport and thus were asking for death?
To repeat one of my catchphrases:
“Yes, it’s healthier not to smoke, but it’s not a sin that warrants the death penalty.”
Metastatic cancer has killed so many of my friends. I saw their pain, and the anguish of their loved ones, and I find I don’t care what might have caused their cancer. I don’t want to lose any more people to this beast.
I want the allocation of research funding to reflect the science that has the best of chance of making a difference for cancers that kill people: metastatic cancers. I want everyone to receive effective treatment for ANY cancer they may have, regardless of why they have the disease, or where they live, or how old they are, or what insurance they have.
Would you want someone to decide whether you deserve healthcare based on YOUR past actions or choices?
End stigma. All cancer patients deserve compassion.
I always find it annoying that one of the first things out when I am introduced (and I am guilty of it myself when I have been speaking publicly or writing on my blog), is that I am a “non-smoker” with stage 4 lung cancer. Should this really matter? I don’t think so. It is important to raise awareness that lung cancer is not strictly a smoker’s disease, and I am invariably asked if I smoked when it isn’t explicitly mentioned, so, for the time being, I find this a necessary evil. But, just as I hate being talked about as a “survivor” (as though I SHOULD be dead already), I also disdain the ubiquitous victim blaming that goes with many cancer diagnoses. It’s a shame that has been the case for so long, but hopefully, we will see an end to it soon as more understanding of what cancers are (and what they are not) bleeds into the public consciousness.
Thank you for your fine work on this blog.
Thank you for another excellent blog post. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Peace and love, Cheryl