Young and diagnosed with Lung Cancer

treelungs

Monday November 25th 2013, 49ers were playing Monday Night Football and everyone was excited since Thanksgiving was just around the corner. I was however at the Stanford Hospital clutching my wife’s tiny purse pacing back and forth nervously. I think 49ers were winning maybe this was a good omen, may be the surgeon would walk out and tell me my wife’s biopsy did not show malignant cancer cells. It’s the night I will never forget.

The phone call from Molly two Fridays ago echoed in my head, the call that changed our lives. I can remember it like it was last night. Molly crying, “Arash……my doctor called, there is a spot on my lung and she think it’s serious”. This was the conversation that had us in the hospital instead of the comfort of our couch watching grown men crush each other. Where was that damn surgeon?

I had stupidly sent my friends home that night and was alone at the hospital. I didn’t think my 39-year-old non-smoker wife would have lung cancer so why would I need them? Man that was a dumb idea. When the surgeon finally came out, I could read it in his face that this Thanksgiving was going to suck!

First question came into my mind was, how the hell my 39-year-old non-smoker wife could have Lung Cancer? Wasn’t this the disease 80-year-old chain smokers got? As weeks passed, I slowly met them…Jill, Lisa, Emily, Natalie, Laura, Jeff, Diane, Abigail, Kelly, Tori, Samantha, Shermaine, Paul, Andrea, Jessica…. All young, all with stage 4 lung cancer.

Up until Molly was diagnosed like everybody else I thought breast, leukemia & testicular cancer were what young people got. The reality is that in US, Lung cancer will kill twice as many women per year as breast cancer. In matter of fact lung cancer will kill 160,000 Americans this year alone! You would think with these numbers there would have been studies done long time ago to figure out why so many young people are getting lung cancer. After all, they had done it for breast cancer and leukemia. But, NOPE, NICHT, NEJ….. Not for America’s number one cancer killer, well at least not until now.

Recently Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute started a study called Genomics of Young Lung Cancer Study. Their goal is to understand why lung cancer occurs in young people and to develop treatments for it. My wife Molly, Lisa, Tori, Natalie and Emily are all participating, but the study needs more people. They are desperately looking for lung cancer patients who have been diagnosed before the age of 40. So please if you fit this category click on the link below and sign up. Also share it with somebody you feel could be part of the study. This is your chance to be part of history.

Genomics of Young Lung Cancer Study

At the end I will leave you with a short video about the Young Lung study. These are real patients with lung cancer, one of them happens to be my wife Molly.

6 thoughts on “Young and diagnosed with Lung Cancer

  1. Good question Arash…why would non-smoking, often non-drinking, non-pot smoking, athletic people get lung cancer? Healthy active people with no family history!
    It boggles the mind. Diet? The air we breathe? The pollutants, hormones, fertilizers,etc in air, soil and water? Stress? It’s about time our politicians, medical world and basic scientists really look into this mystery! It’s much too large of a problem to ignore. In the next 15-20 years one in three people will develop some type of cancer. One third of the human race!
    This problem is big….really big. We need to dedicate resources to this…not just words. We as patients need to raise hell.

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  2. I really thought a lot before I wrote this email. I watched the video a few times. I so do not want to be critical of the work that the foundation does. However, I cannot turn my back on the unease I feel as I contemplate the wording of the video, and its spoken, as well as unspoken messages. In the end I concluded that I must put in my two cents worth. Here are my thoughts and questions:

    1. I have been so busy surviving my own stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis that perhaps I have missed something. Is the actual percentage of under 40 LC patients increasing, as a proportion of total LC patients? I know that LC incidence is increasing, hence the total number of young patients must be increasing. Any increase of LC incidence is tragic. We ALL deserve more funds spent on LC research.
    2. I began to feel uneasy when one speaker made mention of ” 70 year old smokers, who did not take care of themselves”, inferring they must be the unworthy sufferers of this disease. Immediately following that- she discussed how she was active, an athlete, etc. In my humble opinion, repeating old stereotypes does not make them go away.
    3. After this, I felt more uneasy when other speakers discussed their difficulty in getting diagnosed. Most everyone with LC is diagnosed too late- no matter their age, no matter if they are the “70 year olds who did not take care of themselves.”
    4. The kicker that really gave me pause was the end sentence which said something like “we are working towards hope for people like me” . That statement does not seem inclusive in any way. In my own experience whenever people said “people like us” – they used the words euphemistically to exclude others. I am certain the speaker did not mean anything prejudicial. Her words could be misconstrued.
    5. To win any war, to achieve any difficult goal is much easier when there is unity.
    6. I am certain the Addario foundation does wonderful work. I have referred many fellow sufferers there. I am uncertain I would do so now, unless they were under 40, as the publicity seems to convey the message that they are the “Young Lung Cancer” foundation. That is okay, if that is their direction. No one wants to see anyone suffer from this horrid disease. My heart goes out to the LC sufferers in the video.
    However, I will donate or recommend a foundation that is committed to research for ALL lung cancer patients, and spends its research and PR funds among all age groups equally. No life is more valuable than another in my humble opinion.

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    • Thank you so much for your comment and I hope the best for you in your fight against LC. I do think you are misunderstanding this blog. This blog is a about general public’s misperception as LC being an older smoker’s disease and encouraging younger patients to join the study. Each one of the speaker’s expressed what their own misunderstanding of the disease was, so they can raise awareness in their audience.

      Also your comment about Addario Foundation is not only wrong, it’s unkind. If you watch their “Lung Cancer Living Room” series you would see that most of the participants are older patients, and calling them “Young Lung Cancer” foundation is plain incorrect. People from Addario & Lungevity have dedicated their lives to helping LC patients and research. I know this because my wife & I as LC advocates work with both foundations.

      At the end I hope you change your mind about not recommending other patients to the Foundation. If you do, you are depriving them of valuable services that especially older patients need. Please re-read my blog again and watch the video. I hope you will change your mind.
      Have a great weekend
      Arash

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    • Thank you so much for your comment and I hope the best for you in your fight against LC. I do think you are misunderstanding this blog. This blog is a about general public’s misperception as LC being an older smoker’s disease and encouraging younger patients to join the study. Each one of the speaker’s expressed what their own misunderstanding of the disease was, so they can raise awareness in their audience.

      Also your comment about Addario Foundation is not only wrong, it’s unkind. If you watch their “Lung Cancer Living Room” series you would see that most of the participants are older patients, and calling them “Young Lung Cancer” foundation is plain incorrect. People from Addario & Lungevity have dedicated their lives to helping LC patients and research. I know this because my wife & I as LC advocates work with both foundations.

      At the end I hope you change your mind about not recommending other patients to the Foundation. If you do, you are depriving them of valuable services that especially older patients need. Please re-read my blog again and watch the video. I hope you will change your mind.

      Have a great weekend
      Arash

      Like

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