SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Radiation is seeping into many Utah homes and most families don’t even know it. For some, by the time they find out it’s too late. They learn about radon gas after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Lisa Jacobs is living with lung cancer. “It was so confusing because my body had never told me that something was wrong.” She was diagnosed in 2012. “Full body scans on Wednesday, showed up at the doctor’s Thursday morning, they said you have stage 4 lung cancer and I said ‘You’re kidding right?'”
You see, Lisa has never been a smoker. “I had not been sick,” said Jacobs. “I had been working full time. I was helping coach my daughter’s competitive soccer team. I was working out with my girls, no cough, no anything.”
But Lisa found a small bump on her neck. Cancer on her lymph nodes that doctors told her had to come from somewhere. That somewhere turned out to be a massive tumor in her left lung,
“I felt like how could I not know this.” Lisa was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
It’s a very similar story to Valerie Scott. Valerie is also a mother of 4, who was also diagnosed in 2012 with stage 4 lung cancer, and like Lisa, Valerie is not a smoker.
“I felt great,” said Scott. “I didn’t go in because I had any symptoms and I said ‘How can I be dying when I feel this good?”
While Valerie had no symptoms of lung cancer the cancer had taken over both of her lungs.
“Like a snow globe, like if you had taken a snow globe, it was everywhere.”
Lisa and Valerie are both being treated by Dr. Wallace Akerley at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. He says there’s little question about what caused these women’s lung cancers.
“Lung cancer is caused by cigarettes, don’t smoke cigarettes, number two cause is radon,” said Dr. Akerley.
Radon is a radio active gas that’s prevalent in utah. “It’s essentially breathing radiation,” said Dr. Akerley.
According to the National Cancer Institute, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and is associated with 15,000 to 22,000 cancer deaths each year. Here in utah, 1 in every 3 homes that have been tested have levels of radon above federal guidelines.
“Many of the houses in the state of utah have radon levels the equivalent of smoking a pack or two of cigarettes a day,” said Dr. Akerley.
It’s estimated radon is responsible for 100 deaths in Utah per year. “The most important thing here is this is a preventable cancer,” said Akerely.
All you have to do is test for it. “You can’t see it, you can’t smell it, the only way to know is to test for it.” A simple 8 dollar test could save your life or the life of a loved one.
Scott said. “If you could prevent something, it’s like don’t smoke, so okay test your house.”
For more information on radon testing log on to: http://www.radon.utah.gov/
And for radon mitigation help log on to: http://www.radonbegone.com/