It was Friday the 13th th and Kayla Bradford was in a bed in the emergency department of Queensway Carleton Hospital, waiting to know the results of a brain scan and a chest X-ray that she had just experienced.  The 26-year-old mother of Kanata, who had been suffering from troubling symptoms, from a persistent cough to weight loss and exhaustion, had been taken to the hospital, leaving her fiancé at home with her two-month-old son.  "I guess I do not know what I was expecting, I was hoping to get a scan and leave, cancer was never in my mind"
When a doctor came in and asked if she was alone, and advised her to call someone, she knew that the news was not going to be good.
When it arrived, she was in shock. The scans identified spots in the lung and brain that turned out to be advanced lung cancer. She was a young woman who had never smoked and had lung cancer.
"The first thing that went through my mind was my son, I have a two-month-old baby, I need to see it grow, this can not be happening to me."
That was in January. Ten months later, Bradford's son, Leighton, is now a year old and has become a veteran of the wars against cancer and advocate for more attention and compbadion for the disease.
Each year, 20,000 Canadians die of lung cancer. That's more than bad cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer combined. Although responsible for more than 25 percent of cancer deaths, lung cancer researchers receive only about six percent of research dollars for specific cancers, according to Lung Cancer Canada.
In addition, according to a recent survey, 20 percent of Canadians admit to having less sympathy for people with lung cancer than for other types of cancer. And that factor of public sympathy, according to the survey, has diminished in the last decade.
Bradford is among the 15 percent of lung cancer patients who never smoked, something he feels he has to tell people when they know they have lung cancer, due to the stigma surrounding the disease.
Ottawa oncologist Dr. Paul Wheatley-Price, president of Lung Cancer Canada, said that thinking about lung cancer has to change, both for patients who smoke and for those who have never smoked.
"We struggle with advocacy and awareness for lung cancer, because it is widely perceived that they deserve it, there is a stigma," said Wheatley-Price. "We argue that it really does not matter if you smoked or worked hard to stop smoking or if you are someone like Kayla who never smoked, if she dies, her family will regret it equally and also deserve the best treatments."
Wheatley-Price said he's starting to see a shift in consciousness from the days when it was difficult to do anything public. fundraising. Bradford spoke at important fundraising events for lung cancer, called An Evening of Hope, in Ottawa and Toronto during November, which is the month of awareness about lung cancer.
"I feel like I'm making a difference," he said.
The cure rate of lung cancer remains regrettable compared to other cancers: 17% of patients with lung cancer live five years after diagnosis, compared to 87% of bad cancer patients and 95% of patients with prostate cancer.
But there is hope that things are beginning to change.
A major change for lung cancer outcomes would be if patients were diagnosed earlier. Currently, most patients have advanced cancer, and many, such as Bradford, are in Stage 4 when they are diagnosed and, therefore, are not curable. Your cancer has spread to your brain, your liver and your bones.
Ottawa is home to a pilot lung cancer screening project, one of several places in Ontario. At this time, it is limited to people at high risk, including smoking history. There is still a way to go to develop a screening that is safe and accurate enough to be widely used, said Wheatley-Price.
"The real hope in time is that this could save thousands of lives."
In addition, there are new treatment options that were never available before. Bradford has a rare subtype of lung cancer, ALK-positive, for which there are several targeted therapies available.
He received radiotherapy in the first weeks after his diagnosis, but since then he has been taking targeted oral therapy, which means no chemotherapy.
The first medication was difficult. Bradford felt extremely nauseous and could barely eat. Now he has a second medication, Alectinib, which is easier to tolerate and is making a difference. According to his latest exploration, all his tumors have been reduced since he started taking targeted therapy. She is anxiously awaiting the results of her next exploration.
Bradford is in contact with other people, like her, who have lung cancer, including younger women who have never smoked. The medications you received as a treatment are expensive, it costs $ 14,000 per month for current therapy, but they offer it for free and compbadionate.
Friends and family have organized several fundraising events for Bradford and his partner, Jordan MacWilliam, in Kanata and have a gofundme campaign through Facebook at Kayla & # 39; s Fight Club. That money will be used if Bradford has to travel to the US. UU To receive additional treatment.
Meanwhile, the young mother is enjoying every moment she can with her baby and expecting much more.
"I have a lot of motivation I want to see it grow I believe in the power to maintain a positive and positive attitude"