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November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Although you won’t see clear ribbons on the products you buy, you won’t be asked at the grocery store if you would like to give a dollar to lung cancer research and you won’t find multiple 5K runs to benefit lung cancer.

Every year in the United States more than 220,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer. The disease claims more lives in this country than breast, colon, pancreatic and prostate cancers combined.

Because research funding for lung cancer has drastically lagged compared to funding for other cancers, only 16 percent of lung cancer patients survive five years after diagnosis.

I am part of that lucky 16 percent. My cancer was accidently found very early, and I have been cancer-free for seven years. Lung cancer is unlike any other cancer because of the stigma it carries. When most people think of lung cancer, they think of smoking and a cancer that “could have been prevented.”

I am here to tell you that if you have lungs, you can get lung cancer. Just ask Gabby Wilson, an 11-year-old girl from Lafayette, Calif., who was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 6. Ask my friend Heather who was diagnosed at 24 or my friend Kathy who was diagnosed at 29. You can’t ask my friend Sara who left us at 34.

Lung cancer is especially on the rise with young women who never smoked. Researchers have not identified the underlying cause of this yet.

To make sure other people are as lucky as I am, we need to fund the research that leads to breakthroughs and lifesaving new treatments. Recent improvements in treatment have begun to turn the tide for lung cancer patients. In fact, more new treatments for lung cancer have been developed in the past decade than in the 30 years before that. But we need research investment and volunteers to continue to see improvements.

Remember these symptoms of lung cancer: blood in cough; recurring respiratory infections; enduring cough that is new or different; ache or pain in shoulder, back or chest; trouble breathing; hoarseness or wheezing; and exhaustion or weakness

Together, we can help families have more precious time together. Find out how you can make a difference at NationalLungCancerPartnership.org/Get-Involved. Help us lead the movement to save lives so that no one has to lose a loved one to lung cancer.

Jan Gibson, Prince Frederick