Laurianne's Hope

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My Perspective

The internet is a wacky and wonderful place where people can share ideas, opinions and many other things. They can express opinions and debate points of view. Because of this, and because of blogging, I went in search of lung cancer blogs a few days ago. I saw a link for Lung Cancer Alliance, a group I gave a speech for in November, shortly after Laurianne died.

When I clicked on the link, I was very much surprised that it was an argument against Lung Cancer Alliance (at least my interpretation) and some work they did in November submitting a Lung Cancer Awareness proclamation to the California Governor's Office. This group worked really hard on the proclamation, and the governor's office made the choice to change the wording and make the proclamation an anti-smoking proclamation.

The California Proclamation stated:

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT
STATE OF CALIFORNIA

P R O C L A M A T I O N
by the
Governor of the State of California

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in California and the United States, killing more Americans than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.

This year, an estimated 13,000 Californians will die from lung cancer and 16,000 will be newly diagnosed. More than 80 percent of lung and bronchus cancer is caused by cigarette smoking. While the majority of lung cancer deaths are related to active smoking, a small percentage of deaths can also be attributed to secondhand smoke, asbestos or radon exposure.

California has been a leader in the fight against lung cancer through comprehensive tobacco prevention efforts including public education campaigns, clean indoor-air laws and smoking cessation programs. The rate of lung and bronchial cancers has fallen steadily as a result.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month is a time to increase education about the causes of lung cancer and inform those at risk for the disease about the importance of quitting smoking. Through ongoing intervention and greater awareness, we can prevent the next generation of lung cancers cases.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim November 2005 as "Lung Cancer Awareness Month."

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have here unto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this the thirty-first day of October 2005.

/s/ Arnold Schwarzenegger

Governor of California
The problem with this proclamation is that there is no focus on the non-smokers who get lung cancer. In October, Governor Schwarzenegger talked about "devastating medical, emotional and financial effects" of breast cancer for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Lung Cancer Alliance seeked the same sort of wording for lung cancer. The wording of the Lung Cancer Proclamation seemed aimed at smokers, instead of focusing on the disease and equality for all.

So, when I read this particular blog, I felt I needed to reply to it. I am not much of a fighter, but I would not be honoring my sister's memory by not saying anything, and since her death, I vowed I would be an advocate for lung cancer suffers, so my sister will not have died in vain.

Since that time, Dr. Siegel has received many commnets on his blog regarding this issue. I had changed my web address to point to Laurianne's Hope when I commented, but to be honest, I did not expect him to visit. Today, with his third post on the subject, he clarified his points regarding the issue. To my suprise, he also visited the little corner of the blogosphere my dad and I created in honor of my sister. I want to make sure the people who I pointed to this website and regular readers of this site are aware of his comment as well.
Lynda-
I'm responding here as well as your last post because I don't want people to miss what I have to say. I feel terrible that my comments have somehow been not conveyed clearly enough and there is a misimpression that somehow I think there is too much of an emphasis on lung cancer among nonsmokers or not a need to educate people about the problem of lung cancer among nonsmokers like your sister.

I hate for your readers to think that I would have said such a thing as that I think the Lung Cancer Alliance is focusing too much on nonsmokers and lung cancer. I think the focus on nonsmokers is entirely appropriate. In fact, I have devoted the bulk of my career to addressing the problem of lung cancer not in smokers, but in nonsmokers. In 2005, I buried two close members of my family, both nonsmokers who died of lung cancer (they had never smoked), and this simply re-juvenated me to continue fighting the battle to address the lung cancer problem among nonsmokers. I have approached this from the perspective, largely, of preventing secondhand smoke exposure, but there is also an urgent need for resources for treatment of lung cancer, since prevention does nothing once someone is affected.

So I hope it is clear that I did not, and would not say that there is too much emphasis on lung cancer among nonsmokers. In fact, there is not enough emphasis (I myself have seen doctors who've suggested that a patient cannot have lung cancer since they don't smoke) and I'm trying to use my career to increase the focus and attention on lung cancer among nonsmokers.

So I fully support the efforts to increase the visibility of the problem among nonsmokers, and to represent nonsmokers who are affected by the disease. My two relatives who I just lost would certainly be honored by these heroic efforts.

My only point of contention was when there was criticism for mentioning smoking or mentioning it too prominently. I don't see how that detracts from the important work that the Lung Cancer Alliance is doing. It seems to me that both of the aims - preventing lung cancer and treating it - can be achieved without having to undermine each other.

I am taking the time out to write because the last thing in the world I would want is for you and/or your readers and friends and family to think that in some way, I do not fully support you and your cause and your goals. There's nothing further from the truth.

God bless you!
I realize that Dr. Siegel and I are fighting for the same purpose. We both want equality for all lung cancer suffers, whether they are smokers or not. Personally, I would rather have Dr. Siegel as a friend and not a foe. He has stated, "I have devoted the bulk of my career to addressing the problem of lung cancer not in smokers, but in nonsmokers." I definately am for the continuation of research of lung cancer, and its effects on non-smokers. I don't want to see anyone, smoker, former smokers, second-hand smoker and non-smokers alike, or their family have to suffer from this devastating disease. I know from personal experience how painful it is.

Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda :: 10:37 PM :: 3 people are more aware
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