A vivacious working mother. A motivated college athlete. A career-minded dad and avid runner. An energetic father and professional soccer referee. They differ in age, gender, athleticism and careers, yet each was stunned by a lung cancer diagnosis. Today, the four lung cancer survivors take every opportunity to right misperceptions about it being only a “smoker’s disease” and use their voices to advocate for others who are impacted by the number one cancer killer worldwide. They’ve joined leading lung cancer advocacy groups, CancerCare and Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, to bring their voices to Your Cancer Game Plan, an awareness campaign focused on helping people with cancer and their loved ones cope with their emotional well-being, health/nutrition and communication needs during their cancer journey. The program now offers resources to help people with lung cancer map out their own cancer “game plan.”
Lung cancer does not have the same resources, support and public empathy as many other cancers. Because there have only been incremental increases 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. Lung cancer survivor Taylor Bell Duck wants to see this change. A never-smoker who was diagnosed at the age of 21, she’s become a vocal advocate for those impacted by the disease and is breaking down stereotypes in the process.
“After my diagnosis, I was sad and angry. No one deserves to get lung cancer. I felt like it had taken so much away from me and that my life would never be the same,” said Duck. “With my family’s support and encouragement from my doctors, I came to realize that I survived to make a difference in people’s lives that have to fight this disease as well.”
By visiting www.yourcancergameplan.com people can get advice from Duck and her fellow lung cancer survivors on facing stigma, managing shifting family roles and finding hope. The site also profiles Duck’s complete cancer journey, how she built a strong support team, and her realization that she survived to advocate for others going through the same journey. Your Cancer Game Plan for lung cancer is a collaboration between Merck and CancerCare, and five leading lung cancer patient organizations, including Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, LUNGevity, Lung Cancer Alliance, Lung Cancer Foundation of America, and Lung Cancer Research Foundation.
Understanding Lung Cancer
Lung cancer, which forms in the tissues of the lungs, usually within cells lining the air passages, is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 155,000 Americans will die this year from lung cancer. Unfortunately, because most lung cancers are associated with smoking, lung cancer remains a highly-stigmatized disease. The guilt and blame associated with lung cancer may prevent people from talking about their illness and even visiting their doctors for treatment.
“No matter how a person gets lung cancer, it shouldn’t impact the care they get or the empathy they receive,” said Bonnie J. Addario, lung cancer survivor and Chair of the Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. “As the community focuses on growing survivorship, patient advocacy in lung cancer has never been more important. People affected by the disease are in need of reliable information and resources to help support them in their journey.”
About Your Cancer Game Plan
“At the center of Your Cancer Game Plan is the person with cancer, which is why we’re thrilled to work with this group of lung cancer survivors on expanding this program,” said Jill DeSimone, senior vice president, Merck Oncology, U.S. “Each of these advocates brings a shared commitment and passion that Merck and our partners hold for educating and supporting the community of people impacted by this devastating disease.”
Your Cancer Game Plan is a resource for people with cancer and their loved ones focused on the emotional, health and communication challenges of living with cancer. The online Your Cancer Game Plan hub provides unique video content including communication tips, coping strategies, and health and nutritional information, as well as healthy recipes, to help those with cancer and their caregivers take an active role in developing a “game plan” to support their journey. The initiative is supported by Merck in partnership with CancerCare, Savor Health and 14 cancer-specific organizations – including lung, melanoma and head and neck cancers – with more than 300 years of combined experience.