PORTLAND, Maine — November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Lung Association, it is the number one cancer killer of both men and women in the U.S.
What if you never smoked, were never around anyone who smoked, had no family history of the disease, and were still diagnosed? That is unfortunately the reality for Alexandra Babcock.
"This is my oral chemo. I take eight of these a day," said Babcock.
At just 35 years old, she was told she had Stage IV ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer.
"It was devastating. You just don't expect that to happen," said Babcock.
Babcock said last year, she was struggling to catch her breath. Her doctor first thought it was asthma, but she knew there was something more serious going on. After many appointments and a chest X-ray, doctors found a large mass in her lung.
"At that point it had spread to my lymph nodes in my neck, my clavicle area, along my windpipe, which is the reason I couldn't breathe," said Babcock.
According to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America, her diagnosis occurs in younger patients usually 55 and under who have never smoked.
"The percentage of living five years is very minimal," said Babcock.
Through chemotherapy and keeping a positive outlook on life, Babcock is trying to push through that percentage.
"You have to keep enjoying life," said Babcock.
She wants people to know it doesn't matter your age or if you have no history of a disease, it can happen to you.
"If you are feeling any sort of medical concerns with your body, keeping an advocate for yourself, make sure you are going to your doctor and don't let them have the final say. If you feel something is wrong, there most likely is," said Babcock.