Alan: “In 2010, my wife Janet, was diagnosed with lung cancer and given 4 months to live, unless she underwent immediate surgery to remove the tumours in both of her lungs. Janet has never smoked or been exposed to second hand smoke. When we reached out to the occupants of our former home in Ottawa to recommend they test for radon gas, the radon level was at 3,200 Becquerel's per cubic metre (Bq/m 3), which is 32 times the World Health Organization's (WHO) action guideline and 16 times the Health Canada guideline. Janet's lung cancer was inevitably caused through exposure to excessively high levels of radon gas and could have been prevented, had we known to test for radon when we lived in the home.” Janet: “I went to the doctor because I was short of breath, and I had a cough that would not go away. My family doctor was excellent and did not minimize my concerns. I'm here today because my doctor was determined to identify the cause of my condition and sent me for a CT scan, which revealed the cancerous tumours in my lungs.
While I received excellent care at Vancouver General Hospital, everyone I came into contact with asked me the same questions, ‘So you smoked?’ or ‘You must have worked with people who smoked?’, to which I always answered no. The stigma that lung cancer is only caused by smoking is problematic because people don't realize there are other causes such as radon. When I mentioned that radon is a deadly gas which I was exposed to in my Ottawa home, people looked so amazed—I wasn't sure they believed me.”
Alan: “We're all at home more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I think working from home will be the new normal even after the pandemic is over. Consequently, our radon exposure and health risk increases substantially! Protect all of your loved ones and family members, including pets, who's health is also at risk and vulnerable to radon exposure, by testing your home for radon.
As a radon mitigation specialist, I'm a passionate radon advocate and activist for legislative change, to raise public awareness of radon and protect people from radon exposure at home, school and work. My radon story is about preventing others from suffering what my wife Janet has been through. Her courage and determination to not let lung cancer define her life, is an inspiration to our family and friends. Janet's journey should have been prevented, no one needs to suffer lung cancer caused by exposure to radon!”
Janet: “I'm a lung cancer survivor, I am sharing my experience because I want to urge family physicians and the medical community to get behind the indisputable fact that exposure to radon gas causes lung cancer. I would like to see the government pass legislation that requires all homes, workplaces, schools and daycares to be tested. And lastly, I ask all homeowners and renters to test where they live, and urge everyone they come into contact with to do the same—radon-induced lung cancer is real and can be prevented.”
Janet & Alan Whitehead,
Lung Cancer Survivor & Husband, Radon Advocates
Radon impacts many people across our country and the world. Click on each image to read the powerful stories of our radon ambassadors as they share their Radon Story. We hope these stories will inspire you to test for radon and share your own story with us.