Did you know November is national lung cancer awareness month? Hell, we HAVE lung cancer and didn’t even know that until a couple of weeks ago when Chip randomly found out about a lung cancer walk here in D.C. called Breathe Deep DC via a tweet from local weather man Doug Kammerer. Breathe Deep DC, sponsored by the LUNGevity Foundation, is a 5K on the National Mall to raise money for lung cancer research. It is only in its third year and quite unlike the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure or Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, other than that one tweet, neither of us heard anything else about the event before or after in the news, on the radio, saw registration posters, etc. which is quite disheartening considering lung cancer is the deadliest cancer, responsible for more than 25 percent of all cancer deaths.
Well, needless to say, the more we learned about Jerry Sorkin, the local man who started the walk in D.C., Chip decided he really wanted to participate in it, but unfortunately, since we had only found out about the walk a couple of days before it occurred, we didn’t have time to prepare for it, form a Team Kennett team or get a babysitter for 8 AM that Sunday morning. I really, really didn’t want Chip to do the walk all by himself, but he really, really didn’t want to bring the kids with us, because he knew it would cause Joe to ask 100 questions neither of us were prepared to answer, so once I discovered he was in really good spirits on the morning of, I finally relented and decided to just let him go do it while the kids and I went to church together.
When Chip arrived, he noticed the majority of the folks were wearing blue “supporter” t-shirts while a much smaller minority were wearing green “survivor” t-shirts. Was Chip a survivor? What does being a survivor even mean? Do you have to be in remission to be a survivor? Since there is no cure for lung cancer, did Chip’s presence alone make him a survivor? Do the standards of being a survivor change according to the type of cancer you have? Am I survivor, too? Are we both survivors for somehow managing to keep our heads above water this year and live life as fully and normally as possible? Well, yes. After standing around for awhile, Chip decided he was indeed a survivor. As he put the green survivor t-shirt on, he noticed heads slowly starting to turn in his direction. Another survivor turned to him, shook her head and said, “But YOU are so young.” Yes, ma’am. He sure as shit is.
Chip regretted he never got to meet Jerry Sorkin that day to thank him for all he is doing to promote lung cancer awareness and funding in our city, but he did get to meet and thank Doug Kammerer for his tweet and involvement in the race. He also met another young man from Baltimore, father of one and a patient of Dr. B’s at Johns Hopkins, who was there with a group of his friends, he related to quite easily.
I am still conflicted Chip walked that walk alone that day, because “alone” is not how he has had to walk along this larger journey we are on, but I am extremely proud of him for being healthy, willing, and strong enough to do it.
And in the spirit of doing our part to promote awareness for lung cancer and the need for further research, I wanted to share this article, which I strongly urge you to read, along with a few facts I pulled together from various sites.
- Lung cancer kills roughly twice as many women as breast cancer, and almost three times as many men as prostate cancer.
- Although lung cancer kills more Americans than any other cancer, it receives less government funding for research than other cancers.
- The median age for a lung-cancer diagnosis is 70, and smoking causes about 85 percent of all lung cancers in the U.S.
- Nonsmokers make up about 10 to 20 percent of all cases, and some studies suggest that those rates–especially among women–may be going up.
- CT scans can screen for lung cancer before there are any symptoms of the disease, but to qualify you must be between ages 55 and 74 and be a current or former smoker.
Chip and I want to recognize and thank members of Raytheon’s Government Relations office for forming a Team Kennett Tough Mudder Team and raising over $5,000 for the American Lung Association. What an inspiration y’all remain to Chip in the office and in the mud!