Lung cancer surivivor bringing awareness to the disease
90 percent of lung cancer patients are smokers
LA CRESCENT, Minn. (WKBT) — According to the latest statistics from 2012, lung cancer is the leading cancer death among American men and women.
It is also estimated more than 90 percent of all cases are attributed to active smoking.
Lung cancer survivor Maggie Smith never smoked a day in her life, and she’s using her story of survival to erase the stigma associated with the disease.
Like any other mom, 28 year-old Maggie Smith has her hands full, but a few months ago, Maggie visited the doctor complaining of a consistent cough. Her doctor ordered a chest x-ray, and what she learned from there, was the news no one wants to hear.
“The next day, was April fool’s day, and we met with a pulmonology team that day who sat my husband and I down, and said, we want to prepare you, we think it’s an aggressive lung cancer,” said Smith.
Maggie underwent surgery to remove the cancer in the months that followed.
Throughout the process, however, she was reminded of another name, La Crosse’s Liz Melde, who passed away from lung cancer at the age of 25. She was also a non-smoker.
“We were thinking about her the whole time that we were going through this process and being diagnosed, and our doctors actually said, so were we,” said Smith.
Now in remission, Maggie reached out to the Living for Liz Organization, which raises funds and awareness for the disease, to share her story.
“It just resonated with her to reach out to us, that we could help each other,” said Monica Holman, mother of Elizabeth.
“It kind of gave me goose bumps to hear the doctors as they were diagnosing me,” said Smith.
Lack of awareness, Smith said, is a big reason why lung cancer is the least funded of major cancers.
“They just aren’t aware, or when they think of lung cancer, they think of a life-long smoker,” said Smith.
“Therein lies the reason to raise awareness there is a stigma attached to lung cancer,” said Holman.
Now with cancer hopefully behind her, Maggie can have her hands full once again.
Maggie’s prognosis does looks good for the future.
The specific cancer she was diagnosed with can recur over time, so it is recommended to continue follow up appointments the rest of her life.
If you would like to learn more about the Living for Liz foundation, go to the website livingforliz.com