‘Turquoise Takeover’ raising awareness for lung cancer during National Women’s Lung Health Week

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Lung cancer kills more Americans than any other type of cancer.

To raise awareness, the American Lung Association organized a 'Turquoise Takeover' today during National Women’s Lung Health Week.

FOX4's Melissa Stern spoke with two survivors Tuesday and shares their stories.

“No, I didn't feel sick at all. It was time for my annual,” 73-year-old Bettye Givens said.

Givens smoked for more than 50 years before she was diagnosed with lung cancer last year.

“I've smoked ever since I was about 14 or 15,” Givens said. “We didn't talk about cancer then, we didn't think about lung problems then.”

Scans showed abnormalities in both of her lungs. She had lung cancer in her right lung, but is now cancer free after having surgeries to remove it.

Her brother actually passed away from lung cancer about five years ago.

“But he had quit. It had been like 20 years since he smoked, so he would be the last one I would think would get lung cancer, but you just don't know,” Givens said.

She’s right. You just don't know. Christy Fischer, now 51 years old, was first diagnosed with lung cancer at age 38.

“I never smoked a day in my life,” Fischer explained.

She was having symptoms.

“I had chest pain, back pain, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath,” Fischer recalled.

She decided to see a doctor.

They tried to rule out all the other things it could be.

“There's no way this 38-year-old woman, who's always been healthy, athletic, never smoked, no family history of cancer, they were like, there's no way she could possibly have lung cancer,” Fischer said.

After multiple scans and tests, they found several spots on her lungs. She had Stage 4 lung cancer.

“By the time they found it, it had spread to my neck, sternum, and I had it in both of my lungs,” Fischer said.

Fischer has been diagnosed with cancer four times since then.

“Right now, it's stable, and there are no new signs of the disease,” Fischer added.

Two different stories, but both agree on one thing.

“Early detection is key,” Givens said.

“Just listening to your body is extremely important,” Fischer said “We're just now getting traction on building the awareness of lung cancer, and I think it's critical people listen to their bodies, and unfortunately, anyone can get it.”

In the last 40 years, lung cancer in women has increased 94%, according to the American Lung Association.

The association also says, only 3% of women consider lung cancer a top-of-mind health concern.