It's always been thought of as a smoker's disease, but more and more people who have never smoked are being diagnosed with lung cancer. 7s Alexis Rivera shows us how one local woman is overcoming this once deadly diagnosis.
WSVN -- Nancy Rackear has always lived a pretty healthy lifestyle.
Nancy Rackear: "I never smoked. I was not even really that big of a drinker."
So when her sister suggested she add a chest x-ray to her list of screening tests at her annual exam she didn't think much of it.
Until she got a phone call from her doctor.
Nancy Rackear: "She was very alarmed and you could hear it in her voice and she said, 'Nancy there is something there.'"
The diagnosis: Lung cancer.
Nancy Rackear: "I was blown away. I was just completely in shock."
Dr. Mark Block: "Lung cancer is the most common cancer killer."
Dr. Mark Block says people like Nancy who have never smoked make up 20-percent of patients with lung cancer.
Dr. Mark Block: "Non-smokers who are diagnosed with lung cancer are particularly vulnerable to that stigma because they now have a disease associated with cigarette smoking and they didn't smoke."
Nancy says when she told people about her diagnosis they just assumed she smoked.
Nancy Rackear: "It's very debilitating to people to constantly answer that question."
That's why she is speaking out about lung cancer. She wants people to know anyone can get the disease.
Nancy Rackear: "All you need are lungs.
Dr. Mark Block: "So this is an example of an early lung cancer."
But the good news is a simple CAT Scan can make a huge difference.
Dr. Mark Block: "That can look at the lungs with a very high resolution. In other words, can see very small spots in the lungs."
Dr. Block says people at high risk should be screened. That means current smokers and those who have quit in the past 15 years.
Dr. Mark Block: "Screening those patients with a cat scan will detect cancers earlier and will save lives."
In fact, it's reduced the number of deaths so far by 20-percent.
Dr. Mark Block: "That difference is considered to be one of the greatest improvements in cancer care since we started treating cancer."
Nancy credits her sister and early detection with saving her life.
Nancy Rackear: "This past September I celebrated 11 years of survivorship."
She's now planning an event called Kites For a Cure to raise awareness, and says the key is not being afraid to talk about lung cancer.
Nancy Rackear: "I'm a cancer survivor. I'm living with this disease every day and that's better than the alternative."
Alexis Rivera: "You can take part in Kites For a Cure Nov. 16 on Hollywood Beach."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Kites for a Cure:
November 16th, 2013
1pm - 4pm
Sheridan Street & Ocean Drive
Hollywood, FL 33019