‘Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer’


Washington woman shares her message of hope during Lung Cancer Awareness Month

At 17, Edmonds resident Jenn Sabounchi watched her mother pass away from lung cancer and just three years ago she herself, a 37-year-old mom, was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and Sabounchi has a simple, live-saving message: Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer, the number one cancer killer of men and women in the U.S.

“I saw my mother suffer. I held her hand and witnessed her deteriorate before my eyes physically but never in spirit.” said Sabounchi. “Twenty years ago, there wasn’t the research, funding and or resources available. My mom didn’t have all of the resources I have to fight this fight. Today, it’s a new day for those who are told they have cancer.” 

During Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the American Lung Association highlights that increased awareness of lung cancer and lung cancer screening has the potential to save thousands of lives.

“Screening for lung cancer with annual low-dose CT scans among those who qualify can make all the difference,” said Season Oltmann, executive director of the American Lung Association in Washington. “Nationwide, if everyone at high risk were screened, nearly 48,000 lives would be saved.”

Screening is available at no cost through Medicare and most insurance plans, and is recommended for those who meet the following criteria:

  • Are between the ages of 55-80 and currently smoke, or quit within the last 15 years, and smoked the equivalent of 30 “pack years” (one pack a day for 30 years, two packs for 15 years, etc.)

“I am so grateful for the funding, research, and resources that are available to me today that have helped me live with a Stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis. In the past five years, there have been five new drugs approved to treat lung cancer,” said Sabounchi.

The Lung Association also continues to push for better treatment options and new methods of early detection for the disease. There are a variety of risk factors associated with lung cancer, including exposure to radon gas, secondhand smoke and air pollution as well as genetic factors and sometimes the causes of lung cancer are unknown. The Lung Association continues to raise millions of dollars for lung cancer research. For Sabounchi, the hope for the future, and hope for the thousands of those affected today by lung cancer.

“I’ve been battling this cancer for three years,” said Sabounchi. I am a wife to my loving husband, Kevin, and married for six years. We are parents to a fun, creative little kindergartner. I am a daughter, a sister, and I have dear friends who love me and I love them back. This fight requires a lot, including a village. A village who believes and who has hope. A village that includes research, funding, resources and allies. I believe the American Lung Association is an ally of mine – cheering us on as we continue to fight the good fight. Kevin and I like to say, what started out a death diagnosis, has become our family’s life sentence. And we are living.”

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