Friday, June 7, 2013


I am guilty of making assumptions. We all are guilty of making assumptions. Even today when we're supposed to not stereotype everyone, sometimes we do. This brings me to a study I read that discusses the attitudes folks have towards lung cancer patients compared to breast cancer patients. While I'm sure everyone feels a version of sympathy for anyone going through pain, do people discriminate towards lung cancer patients? Do we assume that because a person has lung cancer, he was a smoker?

The local cancer shop in my town.

The article on the study states, "There was significant evidence suggesting a stigma against lung cancer and a strong negative attitude about the disease. And it turns out this finding was consistent across all the different types of participants, including doctors and patients. Although we’ve known for some time that lung cancer is not always caused by smoking, there are clearly biases remaining from this association in most of us – a "mental residue" of sorts."


Have you ever asked a lung cancer patient, "Did you smoke?" I've been asked that a few times when I discuss my Grand Father dying from lung cancer. (And yes, he was a smoker.) We would never ask a breast cancer patient if she did something to her boobies to cause cancer. We would never ask a brain cancer patient what he did to his brain to get him in this situation. Yes, there are certain habits that can lead to a cancer diagnosis--hello! my tanning days!--but that's not always the case.

Take my friend Erin for example. She wasn't a sun worshiper, and I don't think she ever used a tanning bed, but here she is battling stage IV Melanoma.

It isn't always our fault.

Shit just happens sometimes.

(And seriously, I beat myself up enough about it as it is! I don't want a doctor discriminating against me because of a stupid habit I had years ago.)

Let's hope this study causes folks to take a step back and treat everyone equally. It definitely opened my eyes to my own assumptions!

Anywho, we are preparing to go to bed early on this Friday evening. Engagement pictures tomorrow! Then I have a few days of resting before I head back to NYC on Wednesday for my next set of scans and treatment. Yep, scanxiety has already hit!

Have a wonderful sun safe weekend!


Rose ~ from Oz said...

You're right Chelsea, sometimes Shit does just happen. I hate it but it does.
My friend who died from lung cancer (and had never had a ciggie in her life) said that she felt like wearing a sign around her neck saying such, because the stigma was so strong.
The stigma of contributing to my melanoma doesn't appear to exist, I can't figure out the differences. :/
Footnote: Another good friend said and I heartily agree, that there shouldn't ever be stigma attached to pain and suffering. Period. Only compassion.

Rich McDonald said...

Thanks for a fine post on a subject that's hit home in my own family. I think nearly everyone's cancer is, at least to some degree, probably the result of some unwise habit or lifestyle choice, whether it's smoking, tanning, obesity, alcohol use, or whatever. But nobody "deserves" cancer. Period.

Medeah said...

My beautiful 46 year old sister died of lung cancer and yes she smoked. Did it make the pain any less excruciating for her and our family, definitely not. It was horrible. It is still horrible. People do all kinds of things not good for them. It doesn't diminish the value of a person. I pray for you, Chelsea and wish you a lifetime of health and happiness.