Dusty Donaldson’s Story


Dusty Donaldson’s Story

by dusty donaldson

According to the EPA, more than 20,000 Americans will die from radon-induced lung cancer this year. Radon kills more Americans each year than AIDS, drunk driving, drowning or home fires. Approximately 17,000 Americans will die from AIDS this year 10,839 will die as a result of drunk driving 3,650 will drown this year and 3,500 will die in home fires.  These other risks are well known. But the American public knows little about the risks of radon.

Dorothy Blosser from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is one person who never smoked but died from lung cancer. Dorothy was a Mennonite pastor’s wife. After her diagnosis, her family discovered the radon level in the home was nearly 10 times the EPA’s action level.

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer. It kills nearly twice as many women as breast cancer and three times as many men as prostate cancer. In fact, lung cancer kills more people than breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers combined.
While lung cancer is the number one cancer killer, it is the least funded in terms of federal research dollars. One reason lung cancer research is underfunded is because of the stigma associated with this disease. Maybe it’s subconscious; but people assume anyone with lung cancer brought it upon themselves, similar to the early days of AIDS.

Consider that approximately 79,000 U.S. smokers will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. Yet, nearly twice that number—147,000—who are former or never smokers will also be told, “You have lung cancer.”

Although the EPA estimates more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths are due to radon, considering that approximately 34,000 Americans who never smoked will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, the number of radon-induced deaths could be even higher. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in people who never smoked. And for those with a history of smoking, radon exposure greatly increases their risk for developing lung cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, each year approximately 3,400 Americans die from lung cancer caused by second-hand smoke. Radon-induced lung cancer claims six times as many lives. Across the county, restaurants, office buildings and schools have become smoke free. Although the air in these buildings may be smoke free, radon in these buildings is killing 55 Americans each and every day.

Many never smokers are battling lung cancer. Abby, a 14-year-old girl from Macon, Georgia, has been fighting Stage IV lung cancer since she was nine. And there’s Taylor Bell, a former college athlete who interned for Senator Richard Burr. She was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 21. In Texas, there’s Jerrold Dash, a former college football player who had a double lung transplant. Jerrold fights for every day he gets to spend with his wife and two daughters.

I would love to tell you about David, Lila, Julie, Marian, Brittany, Kathryn, Beau, Melissa and many more, but time constrains me.

The Dusty Joy Foundation supports the EPA’s work of warning the public about radon. One easy way to reduce lung cancer deaths is to fund radon awareness. While radon is a serious and potentially deadly problem, the test is inexpensive and easy. And, if there is a problem, fixing it is quick and less expensive than most home improvement projects.

Our nonprofit organization distributes free radon test kits to targeted residents in North Carolina and Virginia, along with EPA radon awareness materials. If funds for radon programs are reduced, a message would be sent that radon awareness is unimportant…that more than 20,000 Americans do not matter. Our organization’s good work would also be hindered. Please do not perpetuate the cruel and false assumption that people with lung cancer deserve it. In light of these facts, we actually request an increase in funding for the EPA’s radon awareness program.
Thank you again for your time and attention to this life-saving issue.