Personal Stories of Stigma: I Have Lung Cancer and Never Smoked

by Chris Williams
A A
Richard Adam
Richard Adam

Not everyone who has lung cancer was a smoker.

Richard Adam says for a 52 year old he has the body of someone in his 70s. 
 
Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and only has one lung. Since his diagnosis, he's faced challenges including going on disability. 
 
But one problem he wasn't expecting was the so-called smoking stigma. The first question most people ask when they find out he has lung cancer is if he was a smoker. He's never smoked. 
 
Adam says he'd prefer if people responded more compassionately to his illness.
 
"Ask me some questions about my journey with cancer or how it's changed my life as opposed to being so focused on did I do something myself to cause this cancer."
 
Lung cancer research gets less federal funding than other types of cancers.  Adam says he thinks the smoking stigma has prevented lung cancer from becoming a national concern.
 
"I think the government, the media, the general public, they all feel that this is not a national priority because there is a preventitive way to not get lung cancer."
 
Lung cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US behind heart disease. About 10% of people with lung cancer aren't smokers. 

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