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Stephen Huff raises awareness of lung cancer in non-smokers



Stephen Huff grew up and lived baseball in Tennessee. He received a college scholarship as a pitcher at Austin Peay State University, where he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox. He was the epitome of health.

"Being an athlete and being a pro athlete, training and taking care of my body was my lifestyle," he told MensHealth.com. "I trained every day and walked 8 to 8 miles at a time, I was always very watchful, what I eat, what I drink, I've always tried to eat organically, I mean, I was afraid to take Tylenol "

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A few years after leaving the minor league and spending time training baseball, he went back to school to finish his apprenticeship and start a new career. When he finished his first year of computer schooling in high school, he felt a bit uncomfortable.

"For a long time I was very asymptomatic," he said. "I had some vague symptoms – I felt like I was suffering from indigestion or heartburn, and by the end of 2016 and early 2017, I had a nagging cough and a whistling sensation."

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Stephen Huff in his minor years.

Stephen Huff

He went to a clinic where he was diagnosed with bronchitis and given antibiotics The doctor noticed an overly swollen lymph node in the neck attributed to bronchitis.

They sent Huff on their way, but two or three weeks later, he still did not feel better about an appointment with an ENT doctor and they sent sent him to a CT scan.

"I knew something was wrong when I left the imaging center and my phone rang 30 minutes later," he said

as a jumble of words and phrases. [19659002] "My doctor said," I have just received your results, and they are not good. In your body is a lot of things that are completely irregular. I had an appointment with an oncologist in the morning. "" Huff remembered. "All I could say was," What do you mean, what are you talking about? What is an oncologist? And he said, "It's a doctor who specializes in cancer." I drove my car and had to stop.

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"It felt like a death sentence. "

Huff was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer on June 1. By that time, he had metastasized in his lymph node, his chest, a small spot on his liver and spinal tendons near his tail bone told him that the five-year survival rate was below 5 percent. [19659002"Feelinglikeadeathsentence"said

"I was engaged, my fiancé Emily and I had just bought our first house, and we had gotten married in three months. Cancer was nowhere on the plan. I had not slept or eaten the first two weeks after my diagnosis. I lost almost 20 kilos in two weeks.

How did that happen to a young man who was a picture of health?

To set the record, you can get lung cancer without ever smoking And although smoking is still the biggest This is not the only cause of lung cancer risk.

"About 10-25 percent of people with lung cancer are non-smokers worldwide," Dr. Roy S. Herbst, head of medical oncology at the Yale Cancer Center, said MensHealth.com . "Exposure to radon gas is a major cause of the disease and is responsible for about 10 percent of cases. Secondhand smoke and carcinogen exposure to air pollution or industrial work can also be risk factors.

Nine to 14 percent of lung cancer patients are under 50 years old, he added. "Be proactive in speaking with your doctor if you have lung problems, especially if you have been exposed to radon gas or other carcinogens from the air."

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Stephen and Emily.

Stephen Huff

Fortunately, Huff learned that his type of lung cancer could be treated with a new type of approved drug referred to as a targeted therapy due to a rare genetic mutation called ALK leading to cancer, which requires him to take four tablets twice daily and has not experienced the dreadful side effects of normal cancer treatment routes such as chemotherapy and radiation

I've been in treatment for about 16 months, "he explains." It attacks the specific mutations that trigger my tumors. Some of my tumors have completely dissolved. The primary tumor on my bronchial tube has dropped by 60%. "

Stephen and his wife Emily have the Huff Project, a

" Lung cancer is the main cause of all cancer deaths, but it only gets 6 percent of the federal government's research funding, "he said." We wanted to know why … and stigma is what matters. People associate lung cancer with smoking, older people who smoke a lot … and that just is not the case. "

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Stephen Huff.

Alan Howell

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When it comes to lung cancer screening, there is really none – which can make the diagnosis even more difficult.

"I had two misdiagnoses of bronchitis and pneumonia, a total of two chest x-rays, three CT scans, four MRLs, and a full-body PET scan before I was diagnosed," Huff said. You have to be a strong advocate for yourself if you feel that something is wrong.

He and Emily have focused the Huff project on making Lung Cancer Awareness plates available in Tennessee – and they are well on their way. In March 2018, lawmakers in Tennessee submitted a bill to support them.

"My message is hey, if it happens to me, it can happen to you," he said. "It's important for me to live my days to the fullest and commit to this disease."


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