The real Superwoman

Dana Reeve died yesterday. She was only 44, the mother of a 13 year old son. A non-smoker, she died of lung cancer. My first thought after hearing the news was of her young son, who has now lost both parents within 2 years. And then my next thought was of how a non-smoker can have lung cancer. It’s frightening.

You think of smokers when you think of lung cancer. When I was in 7th grade I watched my social studies teacher die of lung cancer. It was not a pretty sight. He was a heavy smoker. Even after his surgery, he had his cigarettes in his shirt pocket. Because of this, and because my much-loved grandpa died when I was eight due to surgical complications due to heavy smoking, I’ve never smoked so much as one cigarette. Not one. My brother was a smoker for many years, and I pray he stays cigarette free.

But Radon is another cause of lung cancer. Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless gas. It is in rocks and earth beneath homes and seeps into homes via cracks in basements. It is a lung carcinogen. It can cause lung cancer. It can kill you. I never thought much about Radon until about a year after we moved into our new house. We hired a home inspector to go through our home so we could present the builder with a complete list of items that needed to be addressed. He recommended a Radon test and we agreed to it. The EPA recommends homes be fixed if the indoor Radon level is between 2pCi/L and 4 pCi/L. Our levels were 14.5pCi/L. Our basement was extremely toxic. This came as a shock to us. I did some research and found that pretty much all of Colorado was in the red zone when it comes to Radon. But the funny thing with Radon is, our house was high, but that doesn’t mean our neighbors house would be high. So we put in a Radon mitigation system. It wasn’t cheap ($700), it’s an eyesore (ok, if I would just go out and paint it to match the house, it’d be better), but it was necessary. Radon kills. Silently.

Please, get your house tested. Not a little “at home” test, but a real test by a home inspector certified to do Radon testing. They are about $100, but hey, that’s the cost of home ownership. Who knows why non-smokers get lung cancer (and there’s no reason to believe Dana Reeve lived around Radon), but why take the chance? Pass the word around. Get your house tested. Put in a Radon mitigation system if you need to. We didn’t allow our boys downstairs until we had it in. Lung cancer kills quickly and silently. Protect yourself and your family.

Off the soapbox and back to the usual insanity…

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