This year alone, an estimated 222,500 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer. That makes it the second most common cancer, accounting for roughly 14 percent of all new cancer diagnoses in the United States. The disease is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women, accounting for one in every four cancer deaths.
Those are a few facts we picked up ahead of November, a.k.a. National Lung Cancer Awareness month. The good folks at Mayo Clinic's Stephen and Barbara Slaggie Family Cancer Education Center in Rochester already know all of this and more, of course. And on Thursday, Nov. 2, they're putting that knowledge to work at a free event to help us all better understand what we can do to keep ourselves from becoming the latest lung cancer statistic. They're going big with a giant inflatable lung. Well, a lung display. One that you can walk through to admire the "compound saccular thoracic organs that constitute the basic respiratory organs of an air-breathing vertebrate," as Merriam-Webster so eloquently describes them.
The threats to our lungs' health are numerous. Tobacco use isn't the only thing that puts us at risk for developing the disease, Janine Kokal, a patient educator at the Cancer Education Center, says. "Some people just get it," Kokal tells us. "Sometimes it's related to the radon levels in our homes, or our exposure to asbestos, different kinds of chemicals or pollution. That's why the whole idea of this event is to focus on a healthy lung environment and healthy lung aging."
The event, "O₂ and You: Supporting a Healthy Lung Environment," will feature a lineup of informative lung cancer-related presentations and displays. The giant, inflatable lung exhibit will give an up-close and personal look at how our lungs work from the inside out, and how they're affected by other things like asthma, bronchitis, pulmonary embolisms, pneumonia and emphysema. "And what better way to do that than by giving folks an opportunity to walk through a large blow-up mega lung display?" Kokal says.
The event will also feature an appearance by Linda Wortman, founder, chairman and president of the Wortman Lung Cancer Foundation (and a lung cancer survivor who we've written about here). "Her story is amazing," Kokal tells us. "After the event, she's hosting a 2K, 5K, 10K walk/run event, with all proceeds going to lung cancer research here at Mayo Clinic."
"O₂ and You" will take place from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Mayo Clinic Stephen and Barbara Slaggie Family Cancer Education Center in Rochester. The event is open to everyone and has just one simple rule: good vibes only. "Smoking and other tobacco use is one of the hardest things to give up," Kokal says. "That's why there won't be any shame, guilt, judgement or finger-pointing at this event. We want it to be as welcoming and positive as possible for everyone."
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