Shining A Light On Lung Cancer
Local Group Tackles Disease With Event
When New Market local Josette Miller tells others her mother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, she’s sometimes shocked by their reaction.
Instead of offering Miller a hug or a sympathetic statement, she says many immediately ask if her mother — Teresa Knapp — smoked.
“It’s hard to be patient; I can’t count how many times that’s been said to me,” she remarked. “What does it matter?”
Harrisonburg local Kimberly Lester, the vice president of the Dusty Joy Foundation, a nonprofit group that supports lung cancer awareness, says Miller’s situation is far too common. Lester believes there is a general lack of support for those with lung cancer, due to a negative stigma associated with the disease.
“Lung cancer has a high mortality rate overall, so when you imply someone deserves to have lung cancer, you’re implying they deserve to die,” she points out.
In honor of lung cancer awareness month this November, Lester and Miller have joined forces to promote prevention, awareness and compassion.
On Nov. 14, Miller is organizing Shine a Light on Lung Cancer, a vigil to honor those impacted by the disease. Lester, who’s planned the event in the past, is lending a hand.
“Kimberly has been a great help; we do a lot of texting,” said Miller.
The evening will begin with a speech from Lester about the importance of testing one’s home for radon.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, radon — a colorless, odorless, naturally occurring radioactive gaseous element — is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
“More people will die of radon induced lung cancer than will die of AIDS, drunk driving, or home fires,” said Lester. “So, why doesn’t every home get tested for radon?”
Elaine Dunaway, a health counselor at Rockingham Memorial Hospital’s Hahn Cancer Center, will speak after Lester. Lester says the floor will then open to anyone “who has something on their heart.”
At the end, glow sticks will be handed out and everyone will participate in a moment of silence.
The vigil, however, isn’t the only activity on Miller’s plate. At her daughter Jessica’s suggestion, she’s organizing a blood drive in Knapp’s honor Nov. 16. Additionally, she recently started the Valley Cancer Support Group, which meets on the second Tuesday of each month.
Despite all she’s accomplished since her mother’s diagnosis last May, Miller still doesn’t seem satisfied. As she sits around a kitchen table with Lester, she asks eagerly if anyone has any fundraising ideas.
When asked where she gets her drive, she smiles sadly — nods towards her mother in the den — and responds with only one word: “Her.”
Contact Katie King at (540) 574-6271 or email@example.com.
Lung Cancer Awareness Events
Shine a Light on Lung Cancer will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Woods Chapel Independent Bible Church, 58 Splinter Lane, New Market.
Free radon testing kits will be given out while supplies last.
For more information, call Josette Miller at (540) 481-0459
New Market Community Blood Drive in Honor of Theresa Knapp and Dawn Thomas will be held from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 16 at the New Market Fire Company Community Room.
Contact Miller to sign up, walk-ins also welcome.