This week, Lung Foundation Australia have launched FFS, which stands for ‘Free From Stigma’, after seeing the daily impact of systemic stigma surrounding lung cancer.
Over 12,700 Australians were newly diagnosed with lung cancer in 2018 and approximately half of those living with lung cancer experience distress, anxiety or depression, linked to the stigma surrounding the disease.
Arguing that they can do more for those living with lung cancer if there is an end to the stigma, the medical professionals behind the campaign have revealed that lung cancer stigma negatively effects research funding, early diagnosis, patient mental health and prognosis.
“Australians with lung cancer have felt shame directly attributable to stigma for far too long. Stigma has meant they’re often reluctant to seek help, to seek treatment, even tell their loved ones, and, distressingly, means they are four times more likely to suicide than the general population,” said Mark Brooke, Chief Executive Officer of Lung Foundation Australia.
Stating ‘enough is enough’, Lung Foundation Australia is calling on the government to fund 25 new lung cancer clinical nurse specialists and improve patient access to multidisciplinary teams to ensure the best treatment, care and support is offered.
“Lung cancer is a devastating disease, it is one of the leading causes of cancer death in our country,” said Mary Duffy, an Advanced Practice Nurse and Lung Cancer Nurse Consultant at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
“Quite frankly, we’re tired, we’re heart broken, at the rate we’re losing our patients. Those with lung cancer deserve our greatest compassion, our greatest consideration and empathy, not judgement or prejudice.”
Mary Duffy is one of eight lung cancer specialists participating in the FFS campaign.
“Participating in a campaign like this one is out of the ordinary for my colleagues and I. It’s not a natural setting for us to be in – we’re far more comfortable in our clinics where we want to make a difference.
“Yet we’re here because we need to be. We’re passionate about this campaign, as every one of us has had to look on as our patients’ prognosis worsens, as the influence of stigma makes itself known, time and time again,” Ms Duffy added.
To find out more about FFS! campaign, and what you can do to support those living with lung cancer, please visit: FreeFromStigma.org.au.