Erase the Lung Cancer Stigma

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Erase the Lung Cancer Stigma

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Erase the Lung Cancer Stigma

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Protect Environmental partnered with Breath of Hope KY to participate in the WHO Health for All Film Festival, submitting our project to the “Better Health and Well-Being” category. Our project focuses on the story of radon and the lung cancer stigma. By raising awareness that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer and encouraging people to test for radon, we believe we are advocating for better health and well-being for all. We are excited to have been a part of this annual World Health Organization event alongside over 1200 other film submissions from 110 countries. 

Radon doesn’t discriminate.

Radon – a naturally occurring radioactive gas. Many people are not aware that they have been exposed to radon because it is not something you can see, taste, or smell. Without these warning signs, radon often goes undetected. The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that more than 21,000 Americans die each year from radon induced lung cancer.

As the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, radon should be tested for, and mitigated if needed, in order to prevent exposure. Unfortunately, not many people know that radon exists or that it is a serious environmental health concern.

Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.

What is the lung cancer stigma? It is the generalization and assumption that someone who is diagnosed with lung cancer must have smoked or done something to have caused their diagnosis. The reality is that anyone with lungs can develop lung cancer, not just those who smoke. In fact, there are many different causes, radon being the second cause overall and the number one cause among non-smokers.

Erasing the lung cancer stigma will take greater awareness and education. The Better Health and Well-Being category made the most sense for our project as our goal is to raise awareness and, ultimately, reduce the number of radon-induced lung cancer incidents and deaths starting here in Kentucky and beyond.

Radon is a critical environmental health risk that demands continued recognition and improved understanding to protect people everywhere from exposure. With our film contribution, we want to educate the public and encourage action against radon gas in the places we live, work, and learn.

We worked with Lindi Campbell, Leah Phillips, and Chasity Harney of Breath of Hope Kentucky, who shared their stories in this project. All three women are lung cancer survivors and believe that radon exposure was the likely cause of their diagnoses. These women lived a healthy lifestyle, never smoked, and certainly never thought they would be diagnosed with this life-threatening disease. 

Take Action

Our message is simple. Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer and radon could be the cause. Unfortunately, lung cancer has been defined as a smoker’s disease. Consequently, this stigma perpetuates a lack of awareness and often prevents early detection among non-smokers. 

Naturally occurring radon gas can be found anywhere around the world. It is a worldwide environmental hazard that causes over 21,000 deaths here in the U.S. alone. Exposure to radon is preventable. Testing is the only way to know if elevated levels of radon are in the places you live, work, or learn. 

Take action against radon! Test your home.