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1st November 2017

Tom Shannon

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Tom Shannon, from Upton in Wirral, is 75, fit, active – and living with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). He was blissfully unaware he had the disease until he needed treatment for an unrelated issue.

“I had no symptoms as such. I went into hospital with heart problems, and while I was there, they found I had lung cancer. I think my family and friends were all shocked at the diagnosis, but you just have to get on with it.”

As is so often the case, the first question people often asked when they heard his news was, “Did you smoke?”  With a knowing shrug, Tom confirmed, “Yeah, well I did smoke. I smoked for nearly 60 years. It’s just one of those things. It was a bad choice.

“But it’s not just people who smoke who get lung cancer, it can affect anybody. I think everybody who has got cancer deserves to be helped. I think there’s not enough help. I think if it’s just down to Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation it’s not enough.

“We need to grab the attention of MPs and people who control the purse-strings”.

“I did smoke. I smoked for nearly 60 years. It’s just one of those things. It was a bad choice. But it’s not just people who smoke who get lung cancer, it can affect anybody. I think everybody who has got cancer deserves to be helped. I think there’s not enough help.”

Tom regrets smoking but understands that anyone can get lung cancer

That’s why Tom agreed to take part in this year’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month campaign. The aim is to reach key decision-makers, to make them aware of how urgent, how real and how devastating an issue lung cancer really is in the UK.

At Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, we feel that lung cancer is woefully underfunded in this country.

In terms of spending on scientific research, it lags far behind leukaemia, as well as breast, cervical and testicular cancers – in fact, lung cancer gets just 10% of the total spend on research into site-specific cancers and less than 5% of the amount spent on cancer research as a whole.

We think it’s high time that changed.

Too many people across the UK are unable to recognise or even name the main signs and symptoms of lung cancer – such as a persistent cough, breathlessness, pain in the neck or shoulders or coughing up blood.

We think it’s high time that changed. 

In terms of support to patients, lung cancer is also under-funded. So we think it’s high time that changed too.  

That’s why a key element of our LCAM 2017 campaign is aimed squarely at grabbing the attention of people in positions of influence, people whose decisions can and do make a difference.

And that’s why we are so proud of the patients who have lent their generous support to this campaign. People like Tom and his wife Margaret, who both share our aims.

“I’m proud he’s volunteered to come forward and raise awareness of the funding that’s needed.” said Margaret proudly. “I think everybody needs to raise awareness – lung cancer needs more funding”.