Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Lung cancer survivor-advocate Elizabeth Dessureault represented Team Draft at Ottawa’s TD Place stadium on Friday night. Liz watched the Ottawa Red Blacks defeat, their Ontario province rival, the Toronto Argonauts
When she was told she had lung cancer, Elizabeth Dessureault says, she was unable to process what she was hearing.
“It didn’t make sense to me that a 26-year-old, healthy, non-smoker could get lung cancer.”
Hers is not the face usually associated with the disease.
But, as smoking rates decline, people like Dessureault — young, non-smokers, often female — are increasingly being diagnosed with the cancer that is the deadliest and receives less research funding than other major cancers.
While smoking is still the leading cause of lung cancer, the majority of new patients are people who never smoked or no longer smoke, according to a new report from Lung Cancer Canada, which paints a picture of uneven treatment across the country, poor early diagnosis and low research investment.
Dessureault’s case is typical of these new faces in some ways — by the time she was diagnosed, her non-small-cell lung cancer was already well advanced.
The first surgeon she saw told Dessureault there was nothing he could do and gave her a year to live.
It was very traumatizing.
What is far from typical is the fact that Dessureault was pregnant when she received the devastating diagnosis.
Her son Jack — born two months early so that his mother could receive more aggressive treatment — is now a thriving four months old.
But Dessureault’s experiences have inspired to her raise awareness about the new realities of lung cancer and the need for support.
I want to help change the face of lung cancer — Elizabeth Dessureault
In 2012, we, Team Draft, launched our inaugural Survivor at Every Stadium initiative on CNN during a nationally-televised prime time special focusing on lung cancer and our National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer.
Leveraging our connections with the Canadian Football League (CFL), its teams and players and our relationships with many of the top cancer centers in the country, As part of our National Campaign, this celebration of survivorship raises lung cancer awareness, gives hope to those battling the disease, and shines a light on the important work being done at cancer research and treatment centers around the country.
Team Draft’s goals are to create a unique experience for participating survivors and to raise awareness on a local, national, and international level by using each game and each survivor’s story to weave a broader narrative about the state of cancer and the hope that now exists for those battling the disease.