Shine A Light: 2016

Come Support Lung Cancer Awareness

November 04, 2016

Lung cancer affects many in our region. It affects those who have smoked and those who have not. It affects those who have worked in industries and those who live in homes with radon, an odorless gas that escapes the earth.

The third annual Shine a Light on Lung Cancer event for Penn Highlands Healthcare and the region will be held from 4-6 p.m., Wednesday, November 9, at Penn Highlands DuBois West. 

Shine a Light events are a part of a national campaign to bring hope, inspiration and support to those who have battled lung cancer, along with their families, friends, neighbors and caregivers. Even if you are not impacted personally by lung cancer, you are welcome to show support.

Penn Highlands Healthcare will join 200 communities across the country in hosting this Shine a Light on Lung Cancer event in partnership with the Lung Cancer Alliance. The Lung Cancer Alliance is a national organization with the mission to save lives and advance research by empowering those living with and at risk for lung cancer. 

As part of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Shine a Light is the largest awareness event for lung cancer. Additionally, Lung Cancer Alliance has partnered with the Lung Foundation Australia, or LFA, and other international lung cancer organizations making this event global.

The Lung Center of Penn Highlands DuBois with offices throughout the region has partnered with the Lung Cancer Alliance in an effort to bring lung cancer to the forefront as it is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. 

This year, the event will be different than in previous years, according to Sue Mitchell, certified nurse practitioner of The Lung Center, and event planner and emcee.

A small panel of patients and caregivers have volunteered to tell a little bit of their stories and to answer questions. 

“This will be their personal stories,” Mitchell said. “We want to focus solely on the patients and families.”

Following the panel discussion, a brief ceremony to remember those who lost the fight against lung cancer will be led by Rev. Kevin Bockus, director of the Pastoral Care Department at PH DuBois.

“This event shows that there is hope,” Mitchell said. “And it also makes you aware about risk factors and know to do the screening if you are with these risk factors.”

Not all lung cancer patients are tobacco users. Research had been stifled for many years because people thought they did this to themselves. That stigma is not true.

“Insurances are covering screenings based on risk factors from tobacco use and age,” Mitchell said. “However, we need to push that lung cancer doesn’t always happen in smokers only. It happens to people who worked in our local industries at glass, powered metal and carbon plants. Radon is a factor, too.”

“The earlier we detect it, the earlier you can be treated and with a better outcome and quality of life,” Mitchell said. 

What do we know about lung cancer? 

Lung cancer often has no symptoms until it has spread, or metastasized. “This is because there are few specialized nerves for pain receptors in the lungs,” according to the Lung Cancer Alliance. “When lung cancer symptoms do occur, they vary depending on the type of lung cancer and location and size of the tumor. Some lung cancer symptoms are similar to those of other common illnesses.”

Lung cancer symptoms may include the following:
• Coughing 
• Blood in sputum
• Shortness of breath
• Wheezing
• Pain in the chest
• Fatigue
• Pneumonia

If the cancer has spread from where it started to nearby tissue or lymph nodes, it can show:
• Hoarseness
• Difficulty or pain in swallowing
• High pitched sound, usually heard while taking a breath, similar to wheezing
• Excess fluid in the lining of the lung
• Excess fluid in the lining of the heart

Sometimes, lung cancer spreads to other parts of the body, and those symptoms show up noticeably first. If it is in the brain, a person could have headaches, seizures, nausea, vomiting, weakness, confusion or visual disturbances. If it is in the bone, bone pain is present. If it is in the liver, stomach pain, jaundice, fatigue, weight loss or nausea is common.

Cancer can also cause symptoms far from the tumor that may not be related to the cancer or spread, such as lack of appetite, weight loss, weakness, clubbing of fingers, too much calcium in the blood or low red blood cells. 

For more information about lung cancer evaluations, treatments options offered at Penn Highlands Healthcare or Shine a Light, call The Lung Center at 814-375-3770.