Filming for this year’s lung cancer awareness month campaign, we met Ian Vizer, a 63-year-old former NHS worker from Basingstoke. Ian shared his story just a month after having surgery to remove his tumour.
During this interview, it transpired that Ian’s cough had actually been going on for a few months before he contacted his doctor. We were keen to understand why:
“My cough started in January, and I put it down to a winter bug, or Covid. However, it persisted and so my wife and daughters-in-law were on at me to get it checked.
“We were away on holiday. My cough only really happened at night. The next morning my daughter in law was saying how she could hear me through the walls, coughing away and kept telling me I needed to get it checked out. My wife had been saying the same thing so now I had a load of them telling me to go.
However, I’m stubborn and I think a lot of men are the same. I don’t know why we have that reaction. Maybe we’re embarrassed. Maybe we just want to stay strong for our family. All I know is if I’m told to do something, I’ll usually do the opposite, so I didn’t go to the doctor.
“But then, as my cough continued, I realised I needed to do something. I just needed it to be my decision and not because my wife told me to!”
Ian’s response really made us think. Whenever there is an awareness campaign – be it for lung cancer, or any other kind of disease – it usually tells the person to ‘contact their doctor’ so is that the right approach, or would it be perceived as yet another person telling them what to do?
As part of our latest campaign, On the Right Path, we decided to put it to the test and changed the ending of one of our campaign videos. We put the onus on them to ‘take that first step’ with the hope that, by allowing them to make their own decision without feeling pressured or ‘nagged’, more people will come forward with symptoms.
“For me,” Ian continues, “when my cough wasn’t getting any better, I realised my wife and daughters-in-law were right and I had to get this checked. I wouldn’t admit that to them though! It was then that I took that first step which ultimately set me on the right path.
“I was diagnosed with stage 2a lung cancer. I have surgery to remove the tumour and am now having mop up chemotherapy to get rid of any potential rogue cells. Then, I hope that’ll be it.
“I do wonder though what would have happened if I’d gone a bit earlier, when my cough first started. Maybe I would have only needed surgery. That’s why I wanted to share my story and why I think this new approach could help other take charge of their own diagnosis.”
The On the Right Path promo video, which is kindly sponsored by medical equipment manufacturer Aidence, will be used on social media to target those most at risk of lung cancer.
In addition to this, the charity is also running adverts to raise awareness within the younger generation and those that lower risk of lung cancer.