After 20 months of endless campaigning to raise awareness for lung Cancer, I have finally got my slot on national TV.
I had written to Daybreak, Lorraine, This Morning etc, each several times and each time being told 'it's not something they are thinking of covering at the moment'. I did, however in November get a slot on Daybreak (via Roy Castle) for Lung Cancer Awareness month only to be cancelled 24 hours before and be replaced with a story on the return of the white stiletto heel!
Then low and behold yesterday I had a call from BBC Midlands Today to see if I would do a story It all stems from meeting a lady called Sandra during one of my fund raising events last year. Sandra has a friend who works for BBC Midlands today and told him my story. Today we filmed and on Thursday will be on TV! The story is the one I have been trying to get across since my diagnosis. 1/ Anyone can get lung cancer...There are more younger (under 50) non smoking women getting lung cancer than ever before. 2/ Lung cancer kills more women than breast, ovarian and cervical cancers combined. 3/ lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer yet gets less than 5% of research funding. 4/ It was only in 2007 (only 5 years ago) that they started recognising the different types of lung cancer and treating them accordingly with different drugs! That I am still amazed by. 5/ It had only been in that last couple of years that we have had the biological chemotherapy to treat people with the genetic mutations. I was one of the first to access the drug Iressa on the NHS. 6/ There is hope even when diagnosed at a late stage especially with the availability of new treatments.
Lung cancer is still predominantly caused by smoking however there are increasing numbers of people who have never smoked or who gave up years ago getting lung cancer, this is estimated to be around 60% of all new cases. Although a screening programme is being trialed it is only going to be for older (60 plus) heavy smokers who are deemed to be most at risk. I know they have to start somewhere but it seems to me that the non smokers are being discriminated against. Younger non smokers with Lung Cancer get a really rough deal as it seems that due to not smoking the usual investigations are often not done until many symptoms are present, as no one thinks it could be lung cancer. By the time it is diagnosed it is often at the advanced, inoperable, incurable stage, I am a prime example of this.
In my interview I am trying to show that with research and funding into treatment we can live longer than expected and live relatively normal productive lives. No 'smoking cessation' campaign is going to help people like me!W have never smoked. Nor is screening for early detection, we would not be considered 'at risk' ! The only chance we have is research and funding to help turn this 'death' sentence of a disease into a treatable one. The only way this will happen is to stop the stigma and hope that people see us like every other cancer patient.