Lung Cancer Survivor: I Never Smoked

By: Brittany Gunter
By: Brittany Gunter

Many times when you think lung cancer, many people think of the stereotype of an older person who has smoked all their life, but doctors say that just isn't true.

24-year-old Jessica Watson of Rocky Mount is a mother of a 3 year old and never smoked a day in her life. About a year ago she had a cough she just couldn't get rid of. Her co-worker convinced her to go to the doctor, and that's when a specialist found a tumor in her left lung.

Watson couldn't believe she had lung cancer. She says, "Most of the time when you think of lung cancer, you think of somebody that's been smoking half their life. I never smoked a cigarette in my life. So I was like where did this come from. It surprised me."

Watson had her entire left lung removed and underwent chemotherapy treatments after that. She is thankful that the cancer was detected in the early stages.

She says, "Sometimes you sit back and think why do things happen, but I'm glad because if I didn't go to the doctor there's no telling where I would be right now."

One of Watson's doctors at the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center in Greenville, Oncologist Paul Walker, says more and more "never smokers" are getting lung cancer. "It is becoming an epidemic. Anyone can get lung cancer. Unfortunately somebody who has never smoked can get it. Many times no one thinks of lung cancer and therefore there's a delayed diagnosis or they get blamed you must have done something you really did smoke."

Walker also says another problem is that people ignore their symptoms because they don't think lung cancer can happen to them. He hopes that stories like Watson's will open the door for discussion about lung cancer and people will realize it doesn't discriminate.

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