I have been thinking for days about New Year's resolutions for lung cancer survivors. But what to write? I certainly don't want to add to anyone's "should do - could do" list. That would be contrary to my thoughts hoping you pamper yourself. And the resolutions we are bombarded on the news seem so unimportant and trivial next to a diagnosis of lung cancer.
I tried walking in the shoes of someone with lung cancer - but still no thoughts. It took my car.
Get rid of the stigma of lung cancer. Your personal stigma. Yes. The public, our loved ones, and even the medical profession seem to suffer from the stigma of lung cancer. We can try to educate them, but we can't change them. We can change ourselves. People with lung cancer can decide to eliminate the stigma and expect to be treated with the same compassion and respect as people with other forms of cancer.
I'll explain. So my car battery died. If I could simply say it was bad weather, or that it had lived through too many teenage drivers it might be different. I left the lights on inside - and subsequently - blamed myself. Chastised myself. It didn't matter that sometimes car batteries wear out even if the lights aren't left on. It didn't matter that sometimes people leave interior lights on and batteries do just fine. It didn't matter that we all do things that cause wear and tear on our cars all the time. I wasted time blaming myself rather than investing my energy into fixing the problem.
If you have lung cancer and smoked you may have blamed yourself. But remember. Many people smoke and never develop lung cancer. Some people never smoke and develop lung cancer anyway. And regardless, all of us do things every day that cause wear and tear on our bodies. But just as accelerating fast isn't as obvious as leaving the lights on, being sedentary or eating fast food isn't as obvious as smoking.
I guess that's a wordy way of saying what I hope and wish for all lung cancer survivors in 2011. Pamper yourself. Forgive yourself if you smoked. Expect the compassion and support you would expect if you were living with a cancer that wasn't linked with smoking. You are worth it!
Photo: flickr.com, user Eustaquio Santimano