All his friends are broken by lung cancer

A Montreal retiree who has lost a dozen friends to lung cancer in recent years encourages all smokers to quit for good and get tested as soon as possible.

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“All the friends I lost, and still lose, always because of lung cancer. Eight of my friends died in the past year,” laments 64-year-old Lucien Bourdages.

This foundry retiree witnesses, in spite of himself, the devastation wrought by the most diagnosed and deadliest cancer in Quebec.

“It scares me because I don’t have any friends anymore. My life is not like it used to be,” laments the grandfather of four grandchildren whom he wants to continue to see grow up.

He himself suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema, and quit smoking nearly 10 years ago.

“I take care of myself,” he says, adding that even his wife, who smoked up to two packs a day, managed to break her addiction a few years ago.

” Doing well “

“It did me good […] everyone should stop,” he says with conviction, his sentence laced with a well-felt coronation. Today he leads a healthier life. He eats well, doesn’t smoke anymore, doesn’t drink anymore and doesn’t move anymore.

But he smoked for decades, just like his friends from the small school he loses around him. “Everyone smoked,” he says, as did his hero Guy Lafleur, who he remembers skating at the Forum.

And today he does not hesitate to encourage everyone he meets on the street to stop smoking. “If I see one smoking on the street, I say to him, what are you doing? Don’t have enough to live for? he says, adding with a laugh that nothing can stop him despite his 120 pounds.

Discovered early

As part of the population at risk targeted by the lung cancer early detection pilot, Mr Bourdages underwent the study in the spring.

Much to his relief, no cancer was found. “It was a fear,” he explains. Not only because of his history as a regular smoker, but also because of his 30 years in a foundry in the dust.

He asks all his friends to impersonate him and get tested before it’s too late. He recently told that a good friend confided in him that he was feeling weaker and weaker. Investigations at the hospital revealed not one, but five cancers, as the disease had spread, he continues with emotion.

Quitting smoking is the best medicine

All doctors agree: the best way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking.

“It’s never too early and never too late” [pour cesser de fumer] insists the director of the smoking cessation program at McGill University Health Center (MUHC), pulmonologist Sean Gilman.

“In Quebec, there are 10,000 new cases of cancer associated with cigarette smoking each year. It is the most important avoidable risk factor. In other words, if there’s one thing we can tackle, it’s smoking,” added Canadian Cancer Society vice president Diego Mena.

And several studies show that quitting smoking can regain up to 10 years of life, experts point out.

The worst years

Pulmonologist Simon Martel, a physician at the University Institute of Cardiology and Pneumology of Quebec (IUCPQ), believes the province is currently experiencing its worst years in terms of lung cancer diagnosis.

And it will have to wait another 10 to 15 years before “the beneficial effect of the reduction in smoking starts to be felt more and more”.

Since the 2000s, anti-smoking laws have helped drastically reduce the number of smokers. On the other hand, the Dr Martel points out that population aging is another risk factor for cancer.

More flexibility

for the Dr Sean Gilman, prevention remains key in the fight against lung cancer.

He also asks the government to better reimburse smoking cessation drugs. Currently, a patient can get them for free for a continuous period of 24 weeks per year.

However, treatment is difficult and often has to be interrupted by those who want to stop for good. The government should offer more flexibility, he believes.

– With the collaboration of Nora T. Lamontagne

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