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How to Support Lung Cancer Awareness & Amplify the Radon Message

Episode 1: How to Support Lung Cancer Awareness and Amplify the Radon Message

With lung cancer survivor and Founder of Breath of Hope Kentucky, Lindi Campbell
Episode 1: How to Support Lung Cancer Awareness & Amplify the Radon Message with Lindi Campbell by Protect Environmental
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  • Episode 1: How to Support Lung Cancer Awareness & Amplify the Radon Message with Lindi Campbell

Show Notes:

In the first episode of The Green Scene Podcast, Kyle Hoylman and Lindi Campbell discuss how to support lung cancer awareness in Kentucky to erase the lung cancer stigma and amplify the radon message.

Lindi is a lung cancer survivor and founder of Breath of Hope Kentucky, a local non-profit and a source of community for others diagnosed. The organization supports local lung cancer research initiatives to increase lung cancer survival statistics. Lindi invites others to join the fight against lung cancer by spreading awareness and erasing the lung cancer stigma.

The Importance of Radon Awareness

Radon gas is responsible for the deaths of more than 21,000 Americans every year. 500 of them in Kentucky alone. Kyle and Lindi discuss how lung cancer survivors and radon industry professionals can work together to amplify the radon message. A message that is critical to supporting lung cancer awareness initiatives – that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. Radon being the leading cause of the disease among non-smokers

The lung cancer stigma negatively impacts the lives of those diagnosed. Others often assume that the victim smoked or lived a lifestyle that led to their diagnosis. Proper lung cancer testing is often not available to those classified as non-smokers because of the stigma that lung cancer is only a possibility with a history of smoking.

By amplifying the radon message, others can support lung cancer awareness and end the lung cancer stigma. Kyle and Lindi encourage others to join in the work to save lives by increasing awareness of the importance of early detection and prevention for everyone, even those who do not smoke.

“Our stories can provide hope, we are the breath of hope.”
Lindi Campbell
LUNG CANCER SURVIVOR AND FOUNDER OF BREATH OF HOPE KENTUCKY

Key Take-Aways:

  • The facts about radon gas. 
  • How Breath of Hope Kentucky is amplifying the message about the health risks of radon as the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
  • How the radon message can be applied by policymakers to implement policies that protect occupants from radon exposure.
  • Lindi defines the lung cancer stigma and how it affects those who are diagnosed.
  • What Breath of Hope Kentucky is doing as an organization to overcome the lung cancer stigma.
  • How spreading awareness about the dangers of radon exposure can help end the stigma of lung cancer. 
  • How the community and radon professionals can support lung cancer survivors. 
  • Lindi shares what’s in store for Breath of Hope Kentucky and how lung cancer survivor stories give hope to keep fighting. 

Links:

Listen to The Green Scene Podcast of our streaming platforms.

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Blog Video

Leah Phillips’ Lung Cancer Survivor Story

I have lived in Louisville, Kentucky most of my life. For the last 10 years, I made managing my health a priority. I never smoked a day in my life. I exercise most days. I eat right. I have a yearly physical, mammogram, blood work, wear sunscreen, and basically do my best to be as healthy as possible. I am a busy mom to 3 children and loving my life and, bam…I am hit with this most unlikely diagnosis.

My journey with lung cancer began like many other stories I have read…with a misdiagnosis. A persistent cough in October 2019 led to a chest x-ray and an eventual diagnosis of pneumonia.  After 2 rounds of antibiotics that were not effective, doctors ordered a chest CT scan and diagnosed me with Antibiotic Resistant Pneumonia.  I was admitted to the hospital with 2 IV antibiotics and a bronchoscopy was performed by a Pulmonologist and told the results were “normal.” After a 5 day stay, I was discharged from the hospital to recover.  

Time passed but my cough was still hanging around and I still just wasn’t feeling myself. I knew something wasn’t right.  Two weeks after returning home from the hospital I went back to my Primary Care Physician with worsening side pain. I received another chest X-ray, followed by a chest CT scan that showed lesions on my spine.  I was once again admitted to the hospital where I had a bone biopsy, a brain MRI, a chest tube inserted, and another bronchoscopy procedure.  

I spent 8 days in a hospital bed and test results revealed I had stage IV adenocarcinoma lung cancer. It was one week before Christmas and I was only 43 years old. To say this was a shock, is putting it lightly! Molecular testing results showed I have the EGFR exon 19 deletion mutation. EGFR mutations are most common in female nonsmokers with adenocarcinoma like me. The mutation can cause cells to grow out of control and lead to cancer as it did in my case.

On December 30th I started a targeted therapy drug called Tagrisso known to show successful results in slowing down, reversing, and even eliminating some of the cancer due to this mutation. It is not a cure, as there is currently no cure for stage 4 lung cancer, but it is the best line of treatment for my type of mutation and I am fortunate to have access to this line of targeted treatment. It is not without its share of side effects that are sometimes challenging to deal with, but I know this little pill I take every day is saving my life. However, it is a constant reminder that I have cancer.

Since January 2, 2020, I have been traveling back and forth between my Oncologist in Louisville and Oncologist Dr. Horn at Vanderbilt who is an expert in the type of cancer I have.

The second leading cause of lung cancer is exposure to radon gas and Dr. Horn believes this is most likely the cause of my lung cancer since I have never smoked. Looking back, we did have slightly elevated radon at our house we moved out of 3 years prior to my diagnosis, but I cannot pinpoint any other times I may have been exposed. It is important that people understand the danger of this radioactive gas and have their homes tested for radon. I never in a million years would have expected to receive this diagnosis and if I can help others understand that anyone can get lung cancer, I want to be able to generate that awareness with my story.

I am fighting, I am remaining positive, and I am living my best life one day at a time.

Leah is a part of the organization, Breath of Hope KY. Learn more about this organization.

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Blog Video

Chasity Harney’s Lung Cancer Survivor Story

I was born and raised in Kentucky where I currently live with my husband and our three children.  Never in a million years would I have believed I could get lung cancer because there is no history of the disease in my family and I have never smoked.

One day, while teaching at my school, I had a sharp pain in my chest radiating around to my back that would not go away. I was concerned enough to see my doctor the next day and was relieved when she made the decision to order a CT scan. Thankfully, that one occurrence alarmed me enough to see my doctor right away because I had not experienced any other symptoms and I never felt that original pain again.

As a result of the images on the chest scan and some additional tests, on October 9, 2018, I was diagnosed with stage 3c adenocarcinoma NSCLC just two weeks shy of my 41st birthday. I had 2 tumors in my upper left lobe and 11 lymph nodes that were cancerous.  Initially, I felt numb when we first heard this news. I hurt for my husband and my 3 children and experienced lots of fear not knowing what my future would look like.

Shortly after my diagnosis, we received the news that I tested positive for the EGFR mutation. I soon learned that having this mutation made me a candidate for targeted therapy. I had six weeks of chemo, 30 rounds of radiation, a lobectomy to remove the upper lobe of my left lung, a wedge resection to remove a nodule in the bottom left lobe, 5 pinpoint radiation treatments on my left and right lung, and currently, I am on the targeted therapy pill Tagrisso (80) mg. Throughout this process, I experienced what I would describe as a feeling similar to grief.  I mourned for my old life…before the cancer. As a family, we were lost.

Over time as I healed from the initial surgery and have had a chance to process our new reality, I realized I wanted to do more to raise awareness about this disease. I hope to help others understand that lung cancer is not a smoker’s disease, it can happen to anyone, even if you have never smoked.  I also hope by sharing my story people who read this will listen to their body and seek medical attention when something doesn’t seem right. You never know when your body’s pain or discomfort is an underlying sign of something more serious.

Kentucky may rank # 1 in lung cancer cases and deaths, but don’t be so quick to assume it is because of smoking.  My story is proof that if you have lungs…you can get lung cancer. I can’t say for certain what caused the damage in my lungs to develop into cancer but after I was diagnosed, we had our home tested for radon. We made the decision to put in a mitigation system when the radon readings were 8.0 pCi/L, twice the measurement of what is considered a health risk.  I was also exposed to a lot of dust and particles in the air when the school I taught in for 17 years was torn down and the air of our new school was temporarily filled with the overflow of unclean air.

I would advise anyone who is newly diagnosed to try and stay calm and don’t panic. It’s important not to rush into any treatment before seeking a second or even a third opinion. I was eager to get treatment started so I initially did not get a second opinion. I first did chemo and radiation close to home then went to The James Center in Columbus Ohio to a lung specialist and thoracic surgeon. I am currently still being treated by those same doctors at The James Center in Columbus.  If I had to do it over, I believe I would have sought out a second opinion before rushing into treatment.

A cancer diagnosis is devastating. My whole entire family has learned never to take one day for granted. We live in the present, not looking at the past or future. God continues to give me strength and endurance daily to be the wife and mom I need to be.

Chasity is a part of the organization, Breath of Hope KY. Learn more about the organization.

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Blog Video

Lindi Campbell’s Lung Cancer Survivor Story

In December 2015, I was only 51 when a spot was discovered on the lower lobe of my right lung. I have never used tobacco products, was a very healthy eater and regular exerciser. The nodule was found initially on a routine x-ray by my Primary Care Physician. A CT scan, a PET scan, and numerous follow-up CT scans over a period of 18 months showed some growth, but the reason for the growth was still inconclusive. Lung cancer seemed out of the realm of possibility due to my health history.

When the nodule reached the size of 2.4 cm a biopsy was scheduled to determine if the spot was cancerous. Initially, much to my relief, the results came back showing no signs of cancer. We would later learn that biopsies do not always rule out cancer. After treating the growth in my lung over several months for a possible fungus with no success, I was advised to have it removed without delay and surgery was immediately scheduled within weeks.

The firm advice to proceed with surgery most likely is the key factor in catching it before it had spread. No one could fathom that it would be cancer. A wedge resection surgery was scheduled in December 2017 to remove the unidentified growth. However, during surgery, pathology revealed cancer.

A thoracotomy was performed immediately to remove two lobes of my right lung to ensure all of the cancer was gone. The final pathology report indicated two types of cancer, Adenocarcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma. This rare form takes on a name of its own, Adenosquamous Carcinoma. According to the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, this type of cancer exists in 0.4% to 4% of cases. My cancer, although very rare, had not spread to the lymph nodes and was stage 1. My survival prognosis was considered to be very good. Unfortunately, only 16% of people will be diagnosed in the earliest stages like me, when the disease is most treatable.

After a year and a half of clean scans post-surgery, a few new spots began to appear in my left lung. We continued to follow the growth of these nodules until one in the lower portion of the lung had grown enough (8 mm) to warrant removal for further testing.  In May 2020 a wedge resection was scheduled to examine the growth. It too was cancer. Molecular testing of the tissue revealed I have a genetic mutation called EGFR exon 19 deletion that is driving the cancer in my lungs. I am now on a targeted therapy drug called Osemertinib to intercept the work of the mutation and help prevent future recurrences. I will be on this medicine until it stops working or until there is a better option. Our hope is the cancer does not ever return or spread outside of my lungs. I am very grateful for my health at this time and for the hope research and medicine provide lung cancer survivors, but there is still so much work to be done to increase survival statistics of this number one cancer killer.

Learn about Lindi’s organization, Breath of Hope KY.