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Assembling the white ribbons
UNC Football player Tylee Craft at the tailgate

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

In recognition of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center faculty and staff have been holding events throughout November to educate the community on the latest research and clinical advances in lung cancer.

Lung cancer is leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than more than 236,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, and it will result in more than 135,000 deaths.

“For too long, lung cancer patients have been stigmatized and their suffering has been ignored. Despite causing more deaths than any other cancer, lung cancer research is underfunded. Our patients matter, but our ribbon is clear because we are invisible.  We must change that, and our patients must be seen,” said UNC Lineberger’s Jared Weiss, MD, a thoracic medical oncologist and section chief of lung cancer at the North Carolina Basnight Cancer Hospital.

Caption available
Chris Draft speaking at the kickoff event.

UNC Lineberger thoracic oncology team members hosted a kickoff event for lung cancer awareness month at the cancer hospital on Nov. 1, which included a presentation by Chris Draft, former NFL player and lung cancer awareness advocate.

Draft, the founder of the Chris Draft Family Foundation, brought along white ribbons from the White Ribbon Project for the thoracic care teams to sign and distribute to patients.

“Lung Cancer patients come from all races, ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and not all are smokers and yet are they are most stigmatized group. If I can make one change, it would be to end the stigma and everyone realize that if you have lungs, you are at risk. It can happen to anyone at any time,” said Tammy Allred, RN, OCN, oncology nurse navigator and organizer of the awareness events.

The thoracic oncology team held a lung cancer awareness event near Wilson Library before the UNC-Georgia Tech football game on Nov. 19. In addition to learning about the latest information on lung cancer incidence, prevention, care and research, people were invited to walk through the LungXperience, a large inflatable, interactive display of human lungs.

There was also a tailgate reception for lung cancer patients and their families prior to the game. Tylee Craft, a sophomore wide receiver on the UNC football team who is currently being treated for lung cancer patient at UNC, spoke at the event, and guests were invited to make paint white ribbons as a show of support for lung cancer patients.

These month-long events were made possible by UNC Lineberger, the Lung Cancer Initiative, American Lung Cancer Screening Initiative at UNC-Chapel Hill, The White Ribbon Project, The Chris Draft Family Foundation and AstraZeneca.