Lung cancer is one of New Zealand biggest cancer killer with five kiwis a day dying from the disease.
While the common belief is that lung cancer is predominately a smoker's disease, even healthy people develop lung cancer – almost two out of every 10 people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.
One such person is senior Fast Moving Consumer Goods executive, Baden Ngan Kee, who has never smoked and lives a healthy lifestyle – and was diagnosed with lung cancer.
He is sharing his story marking World Lung Cancer Day today.
Baden wants to raise awareness about this by sharing his story and to encourage people to seek medical advice if they're experiencing any of the early symptoms (a persistent cough, shortness of breath, chest pains or noisy breathing), as early treatment can greatly increase people's chances for successful treatment.
During Baden's leadership positions in his 25 year career include positions as General Manager Merchandise of Foodstuffs North Island, Cadbury, Goodman Fielder and General Manager of Retail Sales and Export at Fonterra.
Over the course of his career Baden has grown a reputation for building strong relationships with suppliers and the wider industry.
He experienced lower back pain in 2016, and three months later was diagnosed with lung cancer. He then had to step away from his full-time role at Foodstuffs to undergo treatment.
Before the diagnosis Baden was a fit and active person who had never smoked, exercised five days a week and ate a healthy diet. He has become passionate advocate for the Lung Foundation, a non-government organisation dedicated to promoting healthy lungs and early detection of lung disease.
“I have learnt to get on with life and not be constrained or defined by my illness. Family and friends have become even more important along with key physicians,” says Baden.
“I am highly grateful to my employer Foodstuffs whose support has allowed me to continue making a meaningful business contribution.
“I have a supportive wife and three young children. We are now closer than ever even though the future is uncertain.”
Acknowledging the public perception of lung cancer Baden says he's aware of the stigma associated with lung cancer with people viewing it as something only smokers get.
“I have learnt there is a major inequity in funding and resources compared with other types of cancer,” says Baden.
John West is calling on the industry to support Baden and the Lung Foundation NZ and will be fundraising for the organisation through its sponsorship of the John West 12km Traverse at the ASB Auckland Marathon 2017.
“The staff at John West will be pulling on their sneakers to run as ‘Team Baden' in the 12km Traverse,” says Group Brand Manager Julian Ng, Simplot.
“We'll be fundraising for the Lung Foundation NZ and ask that other people in the industry join us to support this worthy cause.”
Fundraising efforts have raised over $3,000 to date but Baden, the Lung Foundation NZ and John West hope to raise much more by the end of October when the John West 12K Traverse will take place.
Lung Cancer Facts
Lung Health Promotion
How can you help?
1) Take part in the John West 12K Traverse
Individuals can get involved by registering for the John West 12K Traverse (or any other event at the ASB Auckland Marathon - www.aucklandmarathon.co.nz , and setting up an Everydayhero fundraising page joining ‘Team Baden' to raise funds for the Lung Foundation.
2) Support runners
Non-runners can provide support by donating to friends and colleagues competing in the event and cheering them along on the day.
3) Support ‘Team Baden'
Donate directly to the ‘Team Baden' fundraising page.