November is lung cancer awareness month. We spoke with Filipe Paixão, who is a member of our lung cancer Patient Advisory Group.
My name is Filipe Paixão and I live in Fernão Ferro, Portugal with my wife and 6-year-old daughter. I am 38 and I work for an insurance company as an IT systems administrator. After a small headache and a peripheral vision problem lasting a few minutes triggered me to go to the doctor, in October 2022 I was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer without ever having smoked in my life.
That is an easy one. People really do not understand that anyone can get lung cancer. It is not only the smokers but also everyone. Because of the stigma around tobacco, people do not seem to care as much about lung cancer as they do for breast cancer, for example. There is not enough awareness of lung cancer. More people die from lung cancer than any other cancer and people must be alert on this matter. It is vital that everyone is aware that it can happen to anyone, even those who do not smoke.
I was trying to find a way to get involved with patient advocacy. I began looking for lung cancer organisations and became involved with the LUNGevity Foundation. As part of this, I travelled to Washington to take part in their HOPE Summit. While there, a staff member told me about ELF and that is how I became involved with ELF and the lung cancer Patient Advisory Group (PAG). It was not the shortest path to find ELF, but I have learned a lot during my journey.
ELF’s Patient Advisory Group for lung cancer has given me an opportunity to give my opinion on important projects that can change the way that we look at cancer in the future. I only recently became a PAG member, but I am already able to get involved in the SOLACE project, which will help to address the current issues and inequalities in lung cancer screening in Europe.
Patient advocacy is the best way to improve how we deal with this horrible disease. No one knows better than us how to face it. Therefore, patients must be the leaders in this.
It is important for us to contribute to a better future where lung cancer is a disease that we can talk about without fear of judgments.
Everybody needs to be aware of any symptoms and not ignore them.
I was diagnosed at 36 without any of the usual symptoms of lung cancer. It was a simple headache and I found I had stage IV cancer. I strongly recommend people enrol in screening programs and if not available, search for a pulmonologist to check up your health. Take care.
If you are interested in hearing more about my story and the cancer challenges, my personal blog is www.filipepaixao.pt.
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