Aaron Hawkins has run in 46 marathons. He’s never smoked and is the picture of health.
But that didn’t keep the 47-year-old from getting lung cancer.
While smoking remains the main cause of lung cancer, random exposure and pollution also increase the risk.
For Aaron, the spot on his lung was found incidentally during a cholesterol screening.
“My story would be completely different if I got diagnosed a year later,” he said.
“If lung cancer is caught early, it can be treated and sometimes cured,” said Dr. Albert Rizzo, Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association.
Dr. Rizzo says the problem is that there usually aren’t symptoms early, and screenings are only offered for smokers.
If there aren’t any symptoms, how do you find it early?
“Really, there is no good screening for it. That’s a gap in our research and in our knowledge,” said Dr. Rizzo.
Aiming to close that gap, buildings are being illuminated in turquoise this week to raise awareness during Lung Cancer Action Week.
“Lung cancer is still the number one cause of cancer death for both men and women,” said Dr. Rizzo.
That’s partly because millions who are eligible for screenings don’t get them.
But, survival rates for lung cancer have increased by 25% because of improved treatments.
“I’m a lucky one ’cause I caught it early,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins had surgery and is back to running. Now, a lung force hero on the front lines, fighting the leading cancer killer.