CEDAR HILLS -- A Cedar Hills resident who is terminally ill with stage IV lung cancer received honors as a community champion from her city last week.
Valerie Scott is fighting her third battle with the disease.
"It was surreal when they first diagnosed me," she said. "I never dreamed I had lung cancer."
She asked the physician to not tell her how long she had to live, but he told her anyway, she said. She has outlived that diagnosis by six months and begins her third battle with the disease this week.
Scott would have you know she has never smoked, not a cigarette, cigar or pipe; and that smoking as the only cause of lung cancer is an insidious myth.
Instead, you could be exposed to the second most prevalent cause of lung cancer in your home -- radon, a silent, clear radioactive element.
"No one else can tell you that that is where I got it," Scott said.
Unlike breast cancer, her chances of surviving are nil. Breast cancer caught early enough is 90 percent curable.
"With lung cancer, they don't give you any hope. They refer you to a web site for support," she said.
She found there is a tremendous amount of people in Utah County who have nonsmokers lung cancer and has fought hard to raise nonsmokers cancer awareness.
One of the first things she did was to partner with Reminderband Inc. to design a leopard print wristband for lung cancer that says "Lick it! Lung Cancer."
"I was really impressed that while she is going through all these physical and emotional challenges that come with chemotherapy and dealing with cancer, she is doing a fantastic job with raising awareness for companies, through schools and organizations," Cedar Hills Councilwoman Jenney Rees said.
Scott's goal is to raise nonsmokers lung cancer awareness to a similar level as breast cancer awareness, said Rees, whose own father was diagnosed for lung cancer the same month Scott was.
"It is amazing that while she is struggling so much personally, she is out there trying to raise awareness and trying to help other people. I think that is fantastic," she said.
Because of Scott's work on lung cancer awareness since she was first diagnosed, many of her neighbors have tested their homes for radon. Some have gotten test results with high concentrations and are safeguarding their home from radon contamination.
Even with her new found cause, she was taken aback by the city honor.
"I am humbled and I was surprised that I was honored. I don't feel like I've done anything," she said and added, "I have never known if what I have done has helped somebody."
Scott's recent honors as a Cedar Hills Champion, the work she has done, none of the positives outweigh her death sentence, she said.
"None of this is worth having cancer. If anything, it's kind of lonely sometimes," Scott said. "I don't want to die and I really don't want to be sick."
However, she remains grateful for the time she has been given.
"I've got my will in order, cleaned up my house -- I don't want to leave all the junk for my kids to deal with," Scott said.
Other than being short of breath and because the lungs have no pain receptors in them, she has felt great when not getting treatment.
"For 6 months, I have felt fantastic. I have been able to enjoy my grandson. I've gone back and visited California where I grew up," she said.
"I have felt good enough to enjoy those moments and my family. I have been blessed and given time to enjoy it," she said.
And she finds time to worry. She worries that since their current Cedar Hills home was not high in radon concentration, her children have been exposed along with her in homes they lived in previously. She worries that her children are having to watch her die.
It's when she is with her children, that her emotions rage.
"I wish those I love didn't have to go through this," Scott said.
In the quiet times alone in the middle of the night she battles fear that reaches out and tries to claim her heart.
"I wish I didn't have cancer," she said. "But there are worse things then cancer."