Awareness • Early Detection • Treatment • Research • Survivorship

Never smoked? You could still be at risk for lung cancer. How you can improve your odds.

WASHINGTON (ABC7) — During the spring and summer months, Star Dolbier likes to spend her time in nature.

“When I go for the walks in the woods, I hear the birds, I see the turtles and deer and I thank God,” the Ellicott City resident said.

Dolbier is grateful to be alive after receiving a stunning diagnosis in 2018.

“I started out with a pain in my back and side, then I had tightness in my chest, then a cough and shortness of breath,” she said.

The mother-of-two, who had never smoked, was shocked to learn she had stage four lung cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, 20 percent of people who die from lung cancer in the U.S. each year have never smoked or used a tobacco product. This form of cancer is also one of the most fatal.

Former Linebacker Chris Draft, who played football in Washington in 2010, lost his wife Keasha to the illness in 2011.

“My wife was 37-years-old and never smoked in her life. Amazing shape,” he said.

Draft, who started a foundation to help improve health outcomes, isn’t sure what led to his wife’s cancer.

Seven on Your Side has learned radon gas, secondhand smoke, air pollution, genetic mutations and cancer-causing agents at work, like arsenic, uranium, asbestos, and diesel exhaust are possible causes.

“We are improving the diagnosis of these patients and the treatment of these patients,” said Dr. Christian Rolfo of the University of Maryland Medical System.

Dolbier has had positive results with two medications.

“I just take a pill every day for the rest of my life and I’m so thankful for that,” she said.

To reduce the risk of non-smoker lung cancer, experts recommend avoiding secondhand smoke and having your home tested for radon.