The Stigma of Lung Cancer

Written by Karen Parles, librarian and lung-cancer activist

“Prior to my lung cancer diagnosis, I was an art librarian at the Frick Collection. After treatment, I took classes (medical librarianship, evidence-based medicine, advanced Medline searching) and transformed myself into a medical librarian.

“Following my lung cancer diagnosis, I was appalled to discover the dearth of information available for lung cancer patients. As a research librarian, my instinct was to learn as much as possible about my disease, but the lack of patient information made this task difficult. After completing my treatment, I decided to create a devoted solely to supporting the information needs of lung cancer patients and their families.

“While my ongoing work with other patients has been extremely rewarding, what I have learned about the politics, economics and realities of lung cancer has sickened me. Treatment and support services for lung cancer lag behind those of other major cancers due to the smoking stigma associated with this disease. A constant reminder of this is the inevitable question people ask me when they learn I have lung cancer,