Why didn't they say it was cancer right out? I asked my respiratory specialist about that later and she didn't flinch, 'not everybody takes the news they have cancer as well as you did.'

My husband said, 'Do they do things like run off with the secretary or blow money they don't have on a high-performance vehicle.'

'Something like that,' she said.


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The thing is, when you are unwell, when your body is not behaving as you'd usually expect it to and deep down inside you know it … some of us go into a place of denial and others like me, go hard out to find the answers.

My answer was NETS. A neuroendocrine tumour. In the lung. Lung cancer.

Lung Cancer is not soft and shapely, coloured pink, involving boobies (which, let's face it, everybody loves) nor is it manly and blue but, unlike those two prevalent cousins and their best friend Bowel Cancer – without functioning lungs – you die.

When we catch cancer early, you live.

Although those two statements oversimplify things, with November being lung cancer month and Sunday November 10 International NETs awareness day, it's a good time to give your amazing lungs some attention.

Even more so as we hear stories of young people overseas succumbing to life-threatening lung issues from vaping and our Government seeks to legalise the recreational smoking, which will include vaping, of marijuana.

Our Social Media is currently full of argument over vaping being permitted to advertise, while advertising smoking is prohibited and that flavoured vape products (juice/oil/liquid – things that on an intelligent glance ought to be clear don't generally mix with air) continue to be able to be promoted right when the United States are clamping down on such options in the wake of a seeming epidemic of vape related deaths and illnesses there.


Short answer to any question around this is don't, just don't. There is nothing other than fresh air that's good for your lungs.

Fit, fifty and fabulous: Lung cancer survivor Deborah Burnside says the advertising stereotype of a middle-aged slightly tubby ex smoker coughing blood into a handkerchief is not the full face of lung cancer. Photo / Supplied
Fit, fifty and fabulous: Lung cancer survivor Deborah Burnside says the advertising stereotype of a middle-aged slightly tubby ex smoker coughing blood into a handkerchief is not the full face of lung cancer. Photo / Supplied

No peach-scented juice with a bubble-gum finish and triple the hit of nicotine of a conventional cigarette is "good" for your lungs and the Ministry of Health doesn't advocate commencing vaping other than as an aid to quit smoking and, eventually vaping, altogether.

Less harmful certainly doesn't mean not harmful although the jury is out on that.
Definitely when people first started smoking almost instantaneous deaths were not the result, it was a long slow burn, pardon the pun, before we fully realised the harm smoking does.

There was recently an advertising campaign from the lung cancer foundation and fairly it could have led much of the population to dismiss lung cancer as, that's not me - I don't have to worry.

It featured a middle-aged, slightly tubby man, that smoked, coughing blood into a handkerchief.

That's not the full face of lung cancer though … as a freshly minted lung cancer survivor; fit, fifty and fabulous, my face is and your face could be.

Of the five people that die every day of lung cancer one has never smoked and despite the disease being the largest cancer killer of New Zealanders the disease receives the least amount of funding according to the head of the NZ Lung Foundation, Phillip Hope.

Many sufferers also have to fund their treatments themselves and the Foundation wants the Government to declare lung cancer a National emergency. Now that's an emergency I can relate to.

No, I don't smoke, became a constant response. That's the unfortunate side effect of ads such as were shown. The sad reality is, once you have lung cancer, does it matter? Nobody deserves cancer.

The harsh subtext of that question being, perhaps you deserved this, brought this upon yourself, perhaps I will withhold any sympathy and support until I judge your culpability here.

Nothing could be more distressing to anybody with the disease, surviving the disease, or having watched a loved one dying from the disease.

Except perhaps a Government promoting or allowing to be promoted other harmful products that can be smoked.

All you need do to develop lung cancer is have a set of lungs and that's everybody. One of the best ways to help yourself have a healthy set of lungs is to ensure that you keep them free of pollutants.

If you'd like more information about lung cancer or NETs, you can find that here - and here
Deborah Burnside is an author, businesswoman, environmentalist, political candidate and lung cancer survivor.