Raising lung cancer awareness in memory of my mom

November 1, 2011 1:29:36 PM PDT
Every 2 1/2 minutes, someone in America is diagnosed with lung cancer. In honor of National Lung Cancer Awareness month - which starts Tuesday - Action News is doing a special series about this disease.

You might be wondering why the Action News consumer reporter is doing a series on lung cancer.

I'm doing it in memory of my Mom.

She was beautiful, inside and out. She was talented, fun, and fashionable. She was also my Dad's best friend and soul mate.

Mom never smoked but was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer, also known as Adenocarcinoma.

She fought the disease like a champ and did everything right. She had surgery to remove part of her left lung, chemotherapy, radiation, even cutting-edge brain surgery.

For a while, she was doing great in remission but then the disease reared its ugly head once again and two years after her diagnosis - at just 67-years-old - Mom passed away.

"Lung cancer is first the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. It is the number one cause of cancer death," said Dr. Bradley Lash of the Lankenau Medical Center.

Approximately 1 in 13 men and 1 in 16 women will get lung cancer in their lifetime.

Lung cancer kills more people than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney and melanoma cancers combined and many victims are people who never smoked.

"If we took all the smokers in the world, only about ten percent of them would ever develop lung cancer," said Dr. Lash.

How do you know if you might have lung cancer?

"There's not one specific symptom. Certainly things that get us worried are persistent coughing and coughing up blood, particularly in people who have risk factors," said Dr. Lash.

And while smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, there are many other risk factors like exposure to radon, radiation and asbestos, lung scarring from tuberculosis and perhaps a whole host of other factors we have yet to uncover.

It is now my mission to raise desperately needed funding for lung cancer research.

On Nov. 6, I'll be running in the Free to Breathe Lung Cancer 5K in Philadelphia. Proceeds will benefit the Pennsylvania Lung Cancer Partnership.

More information is below and on my Facebook page. I hope you'll join me or donate to my team.

Links: Free To Breathe
Pennsylvania Lung Cancer Partnership
8th Annual Heather Saler Lung Cancer Walk


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