In February of 2016 Sue Rickards had a routine chest x-ray. To her and her doctor's surprise, Sue had lung cancer.
Sue has never smoked or vaped, or lived with someone who does. There was no family history of lung cancer, and Sue never spent much time in smoke-filled environment or places that would put her at risk of developing lung cancer.
Sue and her doctor began to look elsewhere for the cause, and it wasn't long before they discovered that radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking.
Luckily, Sue is friends with an expert in the field of environmental mitigation. When they tested her home they found exceptionally high levels of radon, well over 1,000 becquerels per cubic meter (1,000 Bq/m³). Health Canada states that anything higher than 200 becquerels should be corrected. Sue and her doctor believe that radon gas was the cause of her lung cancer. Not long after, Sue had a radon mitigation system installed in her home, and now her home's radon levels are well below the Health Canada limit.
After her diagnosis, in May of 2016, Sue needed surgery to remove part of one of her lungs. Things were fine until four years later when she started having aches in her head. Not headaches, but rather pain in her skull. A CT scan revealed that her lung cancer had metastasized to her bones. Within just twenty days, Sue was a Stage 4 Oncology patient. This type of cancer has the highest rate of mortality.
Still, Sue is in high spirits. She is on an effective targeted-therapy treatment with just a few minor side effects, and is living a happy and productive life. She remains active at home and in her community, and is using her voice to educate New Brunswickers about the dangers of radon. "It is really important to understand about radon, because of course this kind of cancer is entirely preventable. At 85, I am living comfortably with effective treatment and excellent support. Don’t pity me; just don’t let it happen to you or your loved ones. Test your home for radon."