5 NC women share fight against Stage 4 lung cancer - None of them smoke
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- We hear a lot about breast cancer.
So you might be shocked to hear that lung cancer is actually the deadliest cancer. You also might be even more surprised to find out who’s getting it: women, non-smokers and younger than you’d think.
We gathered a group of them in a room at Carolinas Medical Center.
Looking at them, you’d never know.
“I’m Angie Madigan. I'm 50 years old and I was diagnosed May 18, 2017.”
“I'm Joy Devine. I'm 41 and I was diagnosed in July 2015.”
These are the faces of lung cancer.
“I’m Paige Black. I’m 47.”
“I’m Doris Stevens. Age 60.”
None of them smoke. The youngest is just 41.
All are being treated at CMC for stage 4 lung cancer.
“Getting a terminal diagnosis... that was very overwhelming,” Black said. “When they said it we just thought that’s crazy.”
Devine, a personal trainer who helps care for her parents, said she didn't know anything about lung cancer other than it being something "like your great aunt who had an oxygen tank."
In fact, 19 percent of women diagnosed with lung cancer in the U.S. are nonsmokers.
“When I would tell people I had lung cancer, they assume, then say, 'I didn’t know you smoked,'” Stevens said.
Linda, a grandmother and an artist who races Corvettes, got her diagnosis from her husband who is a radiologist after she started coughing one weekend.
“And so our date night we're in his office getting a chest film and I see him reading the film and he's white and he said, 'there's a tumor in your lung, doesn’t look good,'” she said.
Angie Madigan says, “to be told that you have stage 4 cancer is devastating.”
There is no cure…but their doctor says there is hope..constantly new treatments on the market.
Still, lung cancer is the deadliest cancer.
“Lung cancer causes more cancer-related deaths than breast, prostate, colon-rectal and pancreas combined,” said Dr. Katherine Milham, who is treating all the women.
The women know they only have a finite time left so they are making the most of their time.
“I'm gonna enjoy every bit of it that I can," Linda said.
“I want my grandchildren to remember me," Stevens said. "I worry about that a lot."
“I just won't give up," Linda said. "I'm not going to be the sick lady with cancer.”
The women were all wearing white for the interview. That’s because white is the color for lung cancer awareness.
They say that’s part of the problem -- most people don’t know that -- and there needs to be more awareness in general when it comes to lung cancer.