Although more people die of lung cancer each year than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined, there’s still a widely held belief that it is a self-inflicted disease.
The guilt and blame associated with lung cancer may prevent people from talking about their illness and even visiting their doctors for treatment. And because there have only been incremental gains in the survival rate for the past 40 years, unfortunately there isn't an army of survivors who can become the public face of the disease.
This places survivors in a unique position to right misperceptions about lung cancer being a “smoker’s disease” and to advocate for others impacted by the number one cancer killer worldwide. Today, four survivors are lending their voices to Your Cancer Game Plan, an awareness campaign focused on helping people with cancer and their loved ones tackle the emotional well-being, health/nutrition and communication challenges along their journey.
Graduate student and patient advocate Taylor Bell Duck knows that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. A star soccer player who never smoked, Duck’s lung cancer diagnosis at age 21 came as a shock to her and her family.
In 2005, Duck arrived at college expecting to play for the Division 1 team, but her health started to become an issue. She experienced painful numbness in her feet and recurring pneumonia that forced her to quit the sport she loved. During her junior year, a sharp stomach pain resulted in a trip to the ER, where she learned that her left lung was completely collapsed and had a large mass. After undergoing surgery to remove part of her lung, Duck has shown no evidence of disease for the past nine years.
Now cancer-free, Duck brings inspiration and hope to others though her work with advocacy groups and most recently Your Cancer Game Plan.
Your Cancer Game Plan launched earlier this year with a focus on head and neck cancer and melanoma in partnership with leading advocacy groups and former pro athletes and cancer survivors, Jim Kelly and Mike Schmidt. Now, the campaign is expanding to offer support, education, and resources to those impacted by lung cancer.
Your Cancer Game Plan for lung cancer provides unique supportive content, including advice from Duck and her fellow survivors on facing stigma, managing shifting family roles and finding hope. The campaign is a collaboration between Merck and leading advocacy groups, including CancerCare, Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, LUNGevity, Lung Cancer Alliance, Lung Cancer Foundation of America, and Lung Cancer Research Foundation.