Eric Goldman’s Wife Has Lung Cancer
Anyone who has ever asked what publication or blog they should follow if they want to learn about this emerging field of Internet Law,, I refer to Eric Goldman’s Blog (an ABA Blawg 100 blog). Eric heads the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University Law School and is the intellectual godfather for many of us in the industry.
As someone who is interested in both law and policy, I frequently run into or even seek out Eric at various bar and industry events and as a guest on my radio show I am fond of telling people about the time I sought Eric’s counsel on a policy idea and he bluntly told me, “that’s an awful idea.” Eric seemed stunned by his own bluntness and added, “I’m sorry, I’m not sure what response you expected.” I told him that was the response I expected and that it was both valued and appreciated.
Today Eric’s blog is not about the “Initial Interest Confusion” Doctrine, Revenge Porn or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, but rather the sad fact that his wife Lisa is struggling with Stage 4 Lunch Cancer. Even worse, is that since lung cancer has few symptoms and Lisa was not a smoker, it often is not detected until is has advanced considerably. Lisa is bravely blogging about her diagnosis and fight at Every Breath I Take.
Cancer for Non-Smokers?
The American Lung Association explains:
Most people know that smoking causes cancer, but may not realize how many nonsmokers get lung cancer, too. Every year, about 16,000 to 24,000 Americans die of lung cancer, even though they have never smoked. In fact, if lung cancer in nonsmokers had its own separate category, it would rank among the top 10 fatal cancers in the United States.
Unfortunately, a perception that patients contributed to their own illness by smoking harms both smokers and nonsmokers with lung cancer. Lung cancer expert Joan H. Schiller, MD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, co-authored a study measuring public attitudes about lung cancer. The study found that 70% of participants had a negative attitude about lung cancer. By comparison, only 22% had a negative attitude about breast cancer.
Even so, researchers have made a lot of progress over the past decade in understanding some of the causes of lung cancer in nonsmokers and how to treat it.
- Radon gas. The leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is exposure to radon gas. It accounts for about 20,000 deaths from lung cancer each year. Radon occurs naturally outdoors in harmless amounts, but sometimes becomes concentrated in homes built on soil with natural uranium deposits. Studies have found that the risk of lung cancer is higher in those who have lived for many years in a radon-contaminated house. Because radon gas can’t be seen or smelled, the only way to know whether it’s a problem in your home is to test for it. A Citizen’s Guide to Radon, produced by the EPA, explains how to test your home for radon easily and inexpensively, as well as what to do if your levels are too high.
- Secondhand smoke. Each year, an estimated 3,400 nonsmoking adults die of lung cancer as a result of breathing secondhand smoke. Laws that ban smoking in public places have helped to reduce this danger. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, is working to expand and strengthen these laws to further protect both smokers and nonsmokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
- Cancer-causing agents at work. For some people, the workplace is a source of exposure to carcinogens like asbestos and diesel exhaust. Work-related exposure to such cancer-causing materials has decreased in recent years, as the government and industry have taken steps to help protect workers. But the dangers are still present, and if you work around these agents, you should be careful to limit your exposure whenever possible.
- Air pollution. It’s long been known that both indoor and outdoor air pollution contribute to lung cancer. In October 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, classified outdoor air pollution as a cancer-causing agent. The IARC evaluated more than 1,000 studies and concluded that increased exposure to outdoor air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer.
- Gene mutations. Researchers are learning more and more about what causes cells to become cancerous, and how lung cancer cells differ between nonsmokers and smokers. For example, an article published in Clinical Cancer Research explains that a particular kind of gene mutation is much more common in lung cancer in nonsmokers than smokers. This mutation activates a gene that normally helps cells grow and divide. The mutation causes the gene to be turned on constantly, so the lung cancer cells grow faster. Knowing what causes the cell changes has helped researchers develop targeted therapies, drugs that specifically target these types of mutations.
The strong link to smoking in the public eye and the view of some that lung cancer is punishment for bad behavior led one cancer group to launch provocative PSA’s such as that used along with this blog post and to the left to break this mind set. Read the story here.
This video explains what some of the symptoms of lung cancer might be.
The Cleveland Clinic has a primer on Lung Cancer – which remains the leading cause of cancer related deaths.
Beating the Devil
While in law school in the mid-1980s, I worked as a legislative assistant for a Washington law firm and frequently had to cover hearings of the House Aging Committee chaired by the legendary Claude Pepper for the firm’s insurance clients. Not a hearing went by without the octogenarian Pepper lamenting the fact that his wife of 43-years was taken by “that devil, the cancer.”
I am very sorry to hear that the very same devil has found a home with the Goldman family. I encourage all of you to read Lisa’s blog and to share this story with your friends, so people can learn that they may be at risk and educate themselves about some of the early signs of lung cancer. I also hope you will join me in keeping the Goldman’s in your prayers during the trying months that lay ahead.
Hang in there Eric, we’re all behind you.
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