a cartoon graphic showing a young man and woman telling an older man to quit smoking

Stigma and lung cancer

This video explains how stigma can make coping with lung cancer more difficult and how reaching out to others can help. Learn more.

Stigma and lung cancer

Stigma and lung cancer  

Narrator: I had no idea that one of the biggest challenges of lung cancer is dealing with negative attitudes – both from others, and myself. I've learned that these negative attitudes are called stigma.

[The narrator appears on screen. He is a person with lung cancer. As the narrator speaks, a group of people appear to the right of the narrator. They are looking at the narrator and seem to be angry or disappointed. The narrator looks sad. The scene ends.]

Narrator: I started smoking when I was 17.

[A young version of the narrator appears. He is holding a lit cigarette. Other young people appear around the narrator. They are also holding lit cigarettes.]

Narrator: Over time it became like a good friend, always there when I needed it.

[To the right of the young narrator and the other people appears the older version of the narrator. The group of people on the left then fade out so just the younger and older versions of the narrator are together on screen. The scene ends.]

Narrator: My addiction helped me ignore the health risks of tobacco.

[On the left of the screen, an outline of a human body appears. The lungs are shown inside the outline.]

Narrator: And besides, cancer would never happen to me.

[The outline of the body fades out and the older version of the narrator appears. He looks strong and healthy.]

Narrator: I was annoyed whenever my kids pressured me to stop smoking. I know they were trying to help, but I was a big, solid guy – I felt invincible.

[The narrator’s adult children appear to his right. They look concerned. Above their heads is a speech bubble with a broken cigarette. The narrator’s expression changes from happy to angry and annoyed. Then all 3 people fade out as the scene ends.]

Narrator: Years went by. I even tried to quit a few times, but the addiction to nicotine was so powerful.

[The narrator appears on screen. He is holding a pack of cigarettes over a trash bin. Then his expression changes from looking wistful to angry or frustrated as he crushes the cigarette package in his hand. The narrator fades out.]

Narrator: I started to have a deep cough that didn't go away. I lost weight and was always tired.

[The narrator appears on screen. He is holding his chest. As the narrator speaks, he becomes thinner, dark circles appear under his eyes and he looks a little sad. The scene ends.]

Narrator: My kids said I should go to the doctor. I knew they were right, but now I was scared.

[The narrator is sitting in an armchair looking concerned. Then his children appear sitting on a couch to the narrator’s right. They look worried. A speech bubble appears above them with a red cross in it.]

Narrator: If it was cancer, was it my fault? Would everyone think I deserved it? Did I deserve it?

[The narrator’s children disappear and the focus shifts to the narrator. We zoom in on him sitting in the armchair. A thought bubble appears above him. Inside are the people from the first scene. They are looking at him and seem to be angry or disappointed. The narrator looks sad. The scene ends.]

Narrator: When I finally found the courage to have some tests, it was lung cancer.

[The narrator is sitting in his doctor’s office. The doctor looks like he is comforting the narrator, and the narrator looks concerned. They both fade out as the scene ends.]

Narrator: I felt so many things then, but mostly shame and guilt.

[The narrator appears on screen. He has one hand on his head and is looking sad.]

Narrator: I didn't want to tell anyone, but I called my cousin who had had lung cancer.

[The narrator shifts to the left side of the screen. A black line divides the screen in half, and then narrator’s cousin appears on the right side of the screen. She holds up her cell phone, and then the narrator holds up his phone.]

Narrator: She said she felt the stigma too, even though she never smoked! People are quick to connect lung cancer with smoking, even though other things can increase your risk of lung cancer.

[Above the narrator’s cousin there is a cigarette in a red circle with a line through it. Then both the narrator and his cousin fade out as the scene ends.]

Narrator: My cousin shared some stuff to read from her lung cancer support group. I learned that stigma makes a hard disease even harder.

[The narrator is having coffee with his cousin. The cousin is holding out a pamphlet with the Canadian Cancer Society’s logo on it. Then the scene ends.]

Narrator: Stigma can make people with cancer feel depressed and anxious, hiding away from loved ones while everyone suffers. I didn't want that for myself or my family.

[The narrator is lying in bed. He looks sick and tired. A thought bubble appears above his head. In it, the narrator is facing the viewer. He looks sad and anxious. Behind him are silhouettes of the people from the first scene in positions that suggest they are angry or disappointed. The scene ends.]

Narrator: I shared my diagnosis with my family and friends, and their support was a big help as I started treatment and experienced some of the side effects.

[The narrator is surrounded by his two children, his cousin and 3 friends. The narrator has his arm around his daughter, and one of the friends is patting the narrator on his back. His son is holding a book, one friend is holding a gift box and another is holding a bag of groceries. Everybody looks caring and supportive. The scene ends.]

Narrator: Nobody deserves cancer. Everyone deserves care and support. Reach out to friends, family or other people with lung cancer for help and understanding.

[The narrator is surrounded by his family, friends, doctor and a nurse. They are all looking at the viewer with smiles on their faces. The scene ends.]

Narrator: The Canadian Cancer Society is also here to help. Visit cancer.ca or call us at 1-888-939-3333.

[The Canadian Cancer Society’s name, logo, phone number and website appear at the top of the screen. The Bank of Montreal (BMO) logo appears below as a proud sponsor of the Cancer Basics video series.]