by Jon Filbert
I am honored to be asked to blog as part of LUNGevity’s Young Adult Lung
Cancer Panel. This is a think-tank of lung cancer caregivers and survivors who
were diagnosed under the age of 40 and who will meet to discuss issues
specific to young adult lung cancer survivors. We are also going to blog
about the things that we face, such as stigma, scan-xiety, care giving, financial and
employment issues, marriage, fertility issues, relationship and dating and
other survivorship issues.
My name is Jon and I am a 34 year old stage IV lung cancer survivor. I
really am at a loss of where to start writing. I look at what I have gone
through and can only base my thoughts on that and on my experiences as an
advocate for young adult cancer survivors. (with i2Y I’m Too Young for This Cancer Foundation)
There’s a stigma associated with lung cancer, that this disease is
simply a smokers disease. You gotta love the first question you’re always
asked when someone learns you have lung cancer, “So how long did you smoke for?”
Really, are you kidding me, bro? Does it matter? What if I told you never
smokers get lung cancer too? When you’re diagnosed with cancer there’s a
lot that goes through your mind and believe me the invention of YouTube
does not help the situation.
I can relate a lot of what I went through to a dear friend of mine who had
surgery and watched his world get tossed just like mine. The lingering
question mark above our heads is “NOW WHAT”?
Too much emphasis is put on quantity of life and I think we need to shift
our thinking to include quality of life.
That quality of life starts from the second you’re diagnosed and you are
sitting down trying to figure out “NOW WHAT?”
I see a lot of people with shame associated with having lung cancer. WHY?
I don’t care if you smoked or not, and neither does LUNGevity. Lung
cancer needs to be “CAUSE AGNOSTIC” (I stole that saying from Katie!) but
it is true. We need to focus on surviving and having a great quality of
life and a CURE, not on the cause of what got us to this point- because
the statistics say lung cancer isn’t supposed to happen to someone my age,
or to a non smoker or never smoker-but it does.
You determine your quality of life…
You define lung cancer ….
You have to make a choice that lung cancer does not define you…
If you are interested in joining the LUNGevityYoung Adult Lung Cancer Panel, email Katie Brown email@example.com