TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Breathing; it happens without us even thinking about it. But we know right away when we can't catch our breath.
"Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in men and women combined," said Bobbie Johnson-Filipiak, lung cancer survivor and spokesperson. "In fact, it's the leading cancer killer of the next three cancers combined."
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Filipiak was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer four years ago.
As she's battling this disease with fierce grace, she thanks recent research for keeping her alive to watch her daughter grow up.
"So with the research that's out there and people giving toward lung cancer research people like myself will have opportunities to move from this treatment to the next seamlessly so that we can stay alive," said Filipiak. " And for me I think that's hope."
Dr. James Tita from Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center said new research has been key but also new screenings that can catch the cancer in earlier stages.
"Lung cancer screening is now a covered benefit by Medicare and insurance companies," Dr. Tita said. "For many years we didn't have a good way to screen for lung cancer. a chest extra is not very sensitive."
CT scans can mean more exposure to radiation. But in the last three years, low radiation dose CT scans became available and Dr. Tita said smokers over 55 are urged to get one once a year.
"We do know however that about 85% of patients who have lung cancer have been or are smokers," said Dr. Tita.
Filipiak said she's working to educate people on lung cancer awareness and prevention.
"People think about lung cancer and they think well that person smoked, they must have deserved it. That's the furthest thing from the truth. No one deserves lung cancer," said Filipiak.