Sunday, April 26, 2015

Learn About and Protect Yourself Against Lung Cancer

April is National Cancer Control Month

Heather Von St. James
Wife, Mother, Survivor
Photo source
Have you ever heard of "National Cancer Control Month"? Me neither. Which is exactly why I'm sharing this newly learned information with you. I was first introduced to Cancer Control Month by mesothelioma cancer survivor, Heather Von St. James, who was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma at just 36 years of age.

The purpose of recognizing National Cancer Control Month is to honor the fight against Cancer. Many of us are already familiar with the various cancer awareness months spread throughout the year. So, you might be asking yourself, 'Why is raising awareness of Cancer Control Month so important'?

According to Heather, "This year, an estimated half a million Americans will lose their lives to cancer, and 3 times that many will be diagnosed. Prevention and screening are the best defenses against cancer, along with education and research."

That's far too many losses! I am only too happy to help raise awareness of Cancer, Lung Cancer and prevention. The best way(s) to reduce your risk of cancer is through prevention and lifestyle changes that include: quitting tobacco, eating healthier, exercising regularly, using sun protection and undergoing recommended screenings.

It can seem overwhelming to think about ALL cancers, so let's narrow our talk down to lungs and lung cancer. I, personally, know all too well the importance of healthy lungs and taking care of those little butterflies in our chest. Learn about why the butterfly is a symbol of lung transplant.

Although my late brother, Eddie, didn't exactly have a choice with his lung disease (he was born with cystic fibrosis); he did have choices on taking care of them in the best way possible. I, too, have choices in protecting my lungs and controlling for any possible asthma triggers. For anyone suffering from either of these lung diseases, one of the best ways to take care of your lungs would be to quit smoking and/or stay away from cigarette smoke.

We've all no doubt seen those commercials of Doug who had mesothelioma. Sadly, Doug passed away in 2012. Mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer that is both aggressive and difficult to treat. But, did you know it can also be caused by asbestos fibers? And that the chances of developing the disease still exists, when there is a genetic predisposition to cancer, even if you were only minimally exposed to asbestos.

The mere presence of asbestos in not necessarily a problem. The problem begins when the asbestos becomes damaged or breaks down over time and releases asbestos fibers into the air we breathe. If you believe your home may have asbestos in it, contact a licensed abatement professional,.

It is my hope that this information on Cancer, Lung Cancer and raising awareness of National Cancer Control Month will help you, a family member, relative or friend. Additional resources on asbestos, mesothelioma treatment and prevention can be found below.

Please help me to raise awareness of National Cancer Control Month and this information article by sharing this post link with your friends and family. Have you had an experience with any of the causes listed in this article? Please comment and share your experience with us.

Learn more about:
-Asbestos in the home
-Mesothelioma treatment
-Mesothelioma prevention

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Monday, August 25, 2014

A Thoughtful Commentary on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenges

I am part of a lung transplant group on Facebook and recently another member posted a powerful message in response to the ASL ice bucket challenges circulating the internet. She has given me permission to share her message and it is definitely "food for thought".

Posted by: Kara D.
I wrote the following on my wall in regards to all of the ALS posts that has bombarded my wall, as I'm sure everyone else's...sorry in advance for the long post!

I am amazed that ALS has been able to raise so much money in such a short amount of time, and I am happy for them and their cause. At the same time, when I scroll through to see all the videos of people pouring buckets of ice water on their heads, I can't help but think, are these people donating, or just pouring water on their head because everyone else is doing it, and it's the "cool thing to do" right now? I wish there was some sort of trend I could start that would go viral to get organ donation awareness out there. I live every day half fearing if today is the day my lungs start to fail again. I look at my kids and see my oldest graduating this year...will I make it to see his graduation? In "good" shape? On oxygen? Or worse...not here?? What about my other 2 kids. My youngest will be in 6th grade. Will I still be here in 6 years to watch him graduate? Every day, my day is a big, fat question mark.

Not everyone is an organ donor. Some fear that if they are in an accident and the EMS sees you are an organ donor that they won't save you. FALSE! For me to even get my lungs, my donor had to have been declared brain dead at the hospital on life support. She could not have perished at home or anywhere else. Some think that they are too old to donate. I just recently read of a 92 year old woman donating when she passed!! Some think religion separates them from donating. Wrong again. Some people want to donate, but don't have it on their license, nor have they told their families of their wishes....the family that is grief stricken when they know they have lost you, wants to keep you whole and decides not to donate your organs, eyes, or tissues. That's at least 8 lives, probably more that could have been saved. There are so many that die while waiting for their life-saving transplant. Instead of the 1 donor that passes on, 8+ more people pass along with them. We need more education for everyone.

We also need more research money for transplants. I'm living on borrowed time, like I said before. My lungs could reject month...2 years from now...20 years from now. I don't know when, but they will. At this current time, transplant is NOT a cure. It's a temporary fix. A band-aid. With more research money, they could come up with new and improved ways to make it so your transplanted organs will become a part of you, instead of a foreign body in your system that every single day it's a fight and a struggle to keep them.

I'm not bashing ALS, or what they've done by any means. It's genius that they've been able to get in the spotlight the way that they have. I'd love to know or figure out a way to get organ donation awareness out there too...after all, it's a death sentence for us too.

I posted the below comment on a friend's post that said she would not be doing the ALS challenge since they have been blessed with so many donations already. She instead, is donating to the Arthritis Foundation in honor of her mother who suffers from osteoarthritis and will need surgical treatment.

My comment:
"Good for you! While ALS is a horrible disease, there are also so many other diseases out there that need attention, help, and awareness. Organ donation is one I'd like to see go viral. There are so many that die on the waiting list because there are not near enough people that have signed we lose at least 2 lives, but many more when one person doesn't say yes on their drivers license. Plus any money raised could help researchers find a way to help make transplanted organs so they would never reject in the recipient. One is not cured after transplant...we are simply living on "borrowed time". I'm glad you are donating to a cause close to your heart instead."

My apologies on the long post...I just felt this all building up.

So what do you think of Kara's comments? Share in a comment below.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

What Color is Your Awareness Ribbon?

Since the early 1970s, awareness ribbons have been recognized and used to raise awareness of diseases and causes. However, so many designations have been made that it can be confusing to know what color represents the cause closest to your heart.

What Color is Your Awareness Ribbon?
To help answer that question, I'll list a few of the causes that I have come across during my ten-plus years of designing crystal awareness bracelets and handmade jewelry. For those of you who know me, you know topping that list are the following causes and nationally recognized awareness ribbon color(s):

Cystic Fibrosis -purple awareness ribbon
Organ Donation -green awareness ribbon
Transplant -green awareness ribbon
Lung Transplant -green with a butterfly as the symbol designating the transplant is specifically 'lung'

I've been honored over the years to also design custom awareness bracelets for a variety of related causes that include the following causes and nationally recognized awareness ribbon color(s):

Pulmonary Fibrosis -red and blue awareness ribbons
Asthma -gray awareness ribbon
Behcet's Disease -light blue awareness ribbon

If you do not see your cause listed, please check out the full and comprehensive Awareness Colors and Meanings article or the Awareness Ribbons by Cause Color article both by Crystal Allure Beaded Jewelry.

I hope this information has helped guide you in understanding some of the nationally recognized awareness ribbon colors for the cause(s) closest to your heart. And if you don't find your cause listed, please visit the articles, I'm sure you will find them there.

That said....What Color is Your Awareness Ribbon? Share in a comment below.

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About This Blog

Welcome to the Lungs for Life BREATHE blog. It is here that I hope to keep you informed, provide resources and just stay in touch with asthma, cystic fibrosis, organ donation and transplant communities.

Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. Thank you.


Our graphic images were designed and generously donated to Lungs for Life by a young man, James Binegar, who lost his fight with cystic fibrosis while waiting transplant. We deeply appreciate James' work on our graphics and for donating his time to LFL. He will be missed but his memory will live on through our use of his graphics.

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