A couple of years after his diagnosis that stereotype was cracked when I met a young lady named Heather and a young man named Joe, both in their 30 and 40's, life time never smokers who had no risk factors. They were in the prime of their lives and did everything "right". How could lung cancer happen to them?
Several years have passed and since then the lung cancer stereotype has cracked even more. Younger adults, parents of young children and people under the age of 60 make up the lung cancer population that I know and work in. Twice as many women under the age of 40 die of lung cancer than of breast cancer. More men die of lung cancer than of prostate, pancreatic and colon cancers. (for more facts visit LUNGevity)
I used to say that lung cancer was a disease that affects our parents and grandparents.
Then I realized it is a disease that may affect your siblings, your peers and one that could even affect me.
This year I met a 20 year old fighting lung cancer. She is a beautiful young lady. Her smile and story are stunning. Lung cancer isn't supposed to happen to people this young.
She is just 3 years older than my oldest son.
Now I can sadly say that lung cancer can affect our children.
Cancer shouldn't happen to anyone. But it's shocking when a disease like lung cancer is happening to our children.
I learned this week that this young lady is running out of time.
My heart is simply shattered for her family.
UPDATE: Kiersten (pictured below) passed away today 7/22/2015.
Please keep her family in your prayers during this difficult time.