11th December, 2014

If You Could Spend a Day With Me…

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Hello Max,

As a radiation oncologist, I treat patients with lung cancer every day. One of them is a 31 year old woman now receiving palliative (temporizing) treatment for her widespread small cell lung cancer compressing blood vessels in her chest and making her very short of breath.

She has preschool children at home. She did not smoke very much, but had started young. When I look at her in the waiting room, she appears like a teenager herself. It seems that a lesser amount of smoking is necessary for women than men before they develop lung cancer. A few years ago, lung cancer became the most common cause of cancer death in women in the United States, well ahead of breast cancer. Such is a price women are paying for the Virginia Slims campaign. The cigarettes indeed make those women quite slim. I support your web page and wish you good luck. The idea of showing publicly people dying of lung cancer to deter others from doing so may be repulsive to some, but I support it. People who do not see those patients find it hard to believe that cancer can strike them personally.

If “Saving private Ryan” can show blood pouring from the intestines and film severed extremities on the battlefield to show the truth about war, so can we – anti-smoking activists – show people suffering from cancer, who are willing to share their experience. ”

Maria Werner-Wasik, M.D.
Radiation Oncologist and Assistant Professor, Thomas Jefferson Medical College