Have you thought of your lungs lately?

Every November, people recognize Lung Cancer Awareness Month and advocate for the challenges arising from a lung cancer diagnosis. This recognition makes a difference for patients, their caregivers, family, and friends.

Pauline Chan, Health Reporter, CTV News, recently highlighted the event. Please look, you may recognize someone!

According to the recent Canadian Cancer Society statistics report, lung cancer remains the leading cancer diagnosis. Lung cancer will kill twice as many Canadians as other cancers, yet public awareness and support for this deadly and complex disease remain shockingly low. In 2021, 21,000 Canadians will die of lung cancer. The lung cancer/smoking connection and associated stigma are significant barriers to galvanizing support in Canada.

Lung Cancer Canada believes screening and early detection must co-exist with prevention and smoking cessation counseling. Low-dose CT screening is vital for high-risk individuals to reduce the number of Canadians diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. This effort requires government funding and will, over time, become more cost-effective than treating late-stage patients. Ontarians are fortunate to have access to a high risk screening program, not available in all provinces.

Despite grim statistics, there’s good news! The five-year survival rate in 2016 for lung cancer was 17%. Fast forward to 2021, the 5-year rate is now 22%. Advances in precision medicine, including new targeted therapies, more access to high-risk screening, and a declining number of smokers, contribute to the improvement.

I am doing well, my disease is stable, and I’m enjoying retirement. I am monitored regularly as resistance to my targeted treatment is inevitable. Lucky me to live in an urban setting, near Sunnybrook Hospital.

The gratitude my husband, Ron, and I feel for my community of supporters is enormous. Since retiring in February 2020, the cumulative total fundraising support from all of you is over $183,000. Wow!

In September 2021, we were thrilled to give Sunnybrook Hospital’s Dr. David Hwang a cheque for $150,000. The funds purchased specialized lab equipment, the Ion Chef System, that analyzes tissue samples rapidly to detect biomarkers across different mutation categories. Knowing the specific mutation at the time of diagnosis or when facing disease progression, oncologists can prescribe the right targeted therapy.

So many contributed to our success, and we are exceedingly thankful for your generosity and support. It took an army, including my former ScotiaWealth colleagues, the Ladies’ Golf Club of Toronto community, family, friends, former clients, and the ‘Crush it with Bev’ Committee. Collectively, we accomplished much in our inaugural year. Thank you all.