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Second rate cancer thoughts

Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

I was just reading the comments to Greg's problem and it highlighted some of the problems I have with lung cancer treatment. I'm lucky enough to have survived (well, so far at least) not one but two kinds of cancer: breast (5 yr. mark now) and lung (1 yr. mark). The differences between the two are remarkable. I get both treated in the same center. The breast cancer section is sponsered by a large makeup firm. The chairs are Easy boy recliners. The lighting is good, the room is spacious. The lung cancer area is small and crowded. Sometimes they run out of seating. With breast cancer, the occupational therapist met with me before the operation to review what exercises I would need to recover quickly. I had a handout detailing 10 exercises that she walked me through so that I would not need physical therapy. She also took measurements to use to compare with future measurements should I develop problems. None developed thanks to the exercises. The lung cancer surgeon never mentioned how to recover except to suggest walking. No one prepared me for the physical effects of surgery. I knew there would be some nerve damage to the area cut, but paralysed muscles in my abdomin from a damaged nerve on my side? The doctor didn't want to claim responsibility and no one yet has told me how to recover from the insults. Fortunately I am heavy into exercise classes at the local Y. That and doing the weight circuit seems to be good therapy for me, but I wonder why breast cancer gets the money and the royal treatment. More folks get lung cancer. But I'm not seeing as much research, as nice of waiting rooms, as many effective treatment options, as many books on surviving this stuff, as much help in dealing with the side effects. Sometimes I wonder if the problem is my imagination or if lung cancer is actually given seond rate status. Anybody else notice this?

Plymouthean's picture
Posts: 264
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi. I'm a 73 year old, six-year survivor of lung cancer, and I am currently in remission from non-hodgkins lymphoma.
Every patient at my cancer center is treated in the same facility. It is clean, neat, comfortable and efficient. Nothing elaborate, though. But I have no first-hand experience with one facility being better than another, so I can't comment on that.
I have found, however, that there are few, if any, local lung cancer support groups available, whereas there are many available breast cancer support groups.Personally, I have had to make contact on a one-to-one basis for support for and of other lung cancer patients/survivors. (A very important reason to support this website and its users)
I agree with CinciRick, that breast cancer patients are perceived as innocent victims, while lung cancer patients are perceived to have "brought it on themselves". I also believe that, overall, the survival rate for breast cancer is higher than that of lung cancer.
Having said that, I believe that it follows that there are more breast cancer survivors, who have a much larger, more sympathetic support base. These survivors and supporters have proven themselves willing and able to publicize their cause, as well as get out and actively promote marches and fundraising for breast cancer.
I also believe that, whereas the overwhelming majority of breast cancer patients are women, we find a much greater willingness, on their part, "to get out and do something about it".
The funds raised by these many volunteers is then channeled into research, and equipment for treatments centers. So if there is a disparity in the treatment facilities for breast cancer patients, vs. other cancer patients, I believe that is the reason.
Breast Cancer Awareness works. Perhaps it is time for more efforts for awareness of other forms of cancer.

Greggriggs's picture
Posts: 132
Joined: Dec 2006

I can't say any thing about Hayward Kaiser the chemo section was all the same , all the cancer victims got poisoned in the same room .

But I will say the surgeon was like yours . He patted me on the leg an said you can go back to work in six weeks . Funny I belived him .So I helped my daughter move . That put me in bed for a week. If I ask him aquestion about recovering he just said I do the surgery ask your oncologist. The oncologist said ask your primary Doctor .
But you went threw more than I have I don't have any thing to compare it with . every time you get a little pain you think cancer!!! so you tell you oncologist an he says tell your Doc I think I have had every cat scan MRI Pet scan tubes stuck every where you can stick a tube. An they all come back clean Thank you God!!!

The only answers to any of it comes from this dicussions an chat All of you have helped me .
You have all felt the pain . And I will ask my Oncologist in November about the therapy. Like you siad all they said was walk so I did.
Thank you all God bless ya all

CinciRick's picture
Posts: 23
Joined: Apr 2007

YES. It is not your imagination. All breast cancer patients are considered innocent victims while many people assume Lung Cancer patients caused their disease by smoking.

An oncologist told me just 2 weeks ago the current statistics show that over 60% of new cases of Lung Cancer are with patients that are non smokers. Even though non-smokers are now out numbering smokers for Lung Cancer there is this stigma attached to the disease.

Now that I have caught on to this I don't use the phrase LUNG CANCER to describe my condition to anyone. If feel like giving a detailed answer I say I have cancer in my spine, lymph nodes,colon and lungs. If my only tumors were in my lungs I would probably just answer that I had adenocarcinoma.

So even if most smokers do not get Lung Cancer, and most Lung Cancer victims are non-smokers how to you get free of the stigma? After years of Public Service Announcements telling everyone smoking causes Lung Cancer, most people assume the reverse to be true. If you have lung cancer it must be your fault for smoking.

I guess it is obvious that I am a non-smoker. Every cancer event, march, walk, run, festival or charity near my home town of Cincinati is all about Breast Cancer. I go to and support these activities with my family and friends but it bothers me that I can't participate in any of the activites for survivors. Only women in pink t-shirts welcome. There is no way of knowing how many other cancer patients are in the crowd anonymously attending these events. If I wore a Black & White Lung cancer ribbon even fellow Lung Cancer patients would not know what a white ribbon means. Have you ever seen a white lung cancer ribbon?

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