November is Lung Cancer Awareness month. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women.
Cancer is a horrible disease! I know so many people that have been affected by it, whether that be having cancer themselves or watching loved ones go through their battles. Even with Cancer being so widely known it is something that is not always spoken about. The very word Cancer brings about a lot of fear. In a lot of ways, it is like Voldemort in the Harry Potter series! The very name brings fear and uncertainty. Which is why the wizarding community started referring to Voldemort as “He Who Must Not Be Named” or “You Know Who”. Like Voldemort, Cancer is often avoided in talks and has been shortened to “The Big C”. I think it should be spoken about. Cancer is isolating, and avoiding talking about it only makes it more isolating. I understand that people don’t know what to say to a person who has a diagnosis. It is a lot for people to process. My advice is just to be there. Let the person know that you are there when they want to, and if they need to talk and just be there. Treat the person with dignity and respect and don’t make them feel that they are alone. It really is that simple.
Cancer begins in cells in our body. Cells in our bodies are what makes up the organs and tissue in them. Our bodies heal, grow and repairs itself by cells dividing and new ones being created. Sometimes these can become abnormal and they keep on dividing and creating more abnormal cells that can come together and for a lump, or a tumour. A tumour is not always cancerous though.
The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:
- A cough for 3 or more weeks or a change in a cough that you’ve had for a while
- A chest infection that doesn’t get better, or repeated chest infections
- Feeling breathless and wheezy for no reason
- Chest or shoulder pain that does not get better
- A hoarse voice for 3 or more weeks
- Coughing up blood
- Losing weight for no obvious reason
- The end of your fingers have changed shape (larger or rounder – clubbing)
If you or someone you know have any of these symptoms, it is best to talk to a doctor and get it checked out.
There are two main types of lung cancer – non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Treatment depends on the type of lung cancer you have. Small cell lung cancer is so named due to the way that the cells look under the microscope. It is fast-growing cancer and spreads quickly.
My nana was primarily diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. When she was diagnosed it had already spread to her adrenal gland. It is thought that it may have spread to her head but she was too ill at the time for the tests to know, but she was showing symptoms that it had.
There are so many different charities and organisations that provide care and support to people and their families through the diagnosis. A quick google search and you will find a lot. Below are links that are full of information, resources and further links to look at.
Check out the Lung Cancer Awareness Month website to find real stories about lung cancer from lung cancer patients, survivors, caregivers and family and friends, http://lcam.org/stories-of-hope/.
The Beatson website has a huge list of different sites for support and information about all different types of Cancer, http://www.beatson.scot.nhs.uk/content/default.asp?page=s17, as does the IASLC (the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer) https://www.iaslc.org/patient-resources/advocacy-partners. The list on the IASLC website may be more beneficial for people outside of the UK.