May 9, 2012 11:14 AM by Carina Corral
A Lompoc resident has terminal lung cancer, but what surprises many people is that she does not smoke.
Now, Mary Anne Rios aims to end this stigma associated with lung cancer and her mission involves Ellen DeGeneres.
She has a lot of fond memories of her family, friends and years as a counselor at Lompoc High School. She would like one of her last to be of dancing on the Ellen Show. "I can't find anybody to support lung cancer because there's such a stigma on it.. She's so tolerant and accepting of so many people that maybe she would do this."
An on-line petition has been started to get Mary Anne on the Ellen Show. In just a short time, it has collected thousands of signatures.
"I just don't want anyone else to go what I went through, misdiagnosed, because my story is not unique."
Mary Anne is not a smoker and no one in her family is, so she said doctors never thought her chronic cough, hoarseness, and a lump in the back of her neck could be lung cancer. They were wrong.
"The biggest problem with lung cancer is that it's the least funded and the number one killer.. I've had to tell so many medical personnel about the symptoms of lung cancer and I shouldn't be the ones telling them they should be telling me."
It went untreated for so long, it spread to her brain and spine. Doctors don't give her much longer to live.
"I call it my bucket wish list because of the movie The Bucket List." Mary Anne has checked many things off her list that include meeting Kurt Russell and going to Disneyland with her family.
"I want to ride in a limo bus, a dancing one with my friends, and I want to make it to my birthday and dance with my husband," Mary Anne said of the items on her list that remain unchecked.
Dancing with Ellen also tops the list. She wants it to be a fun way to spread her important message, "that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer."
Mary Anne is trying to raise money and awareness for lung cancer research.
On her own, she has already raised $20,000 by organizing walks and vigils in Lompoc.
Doctors attribute Mary Anne's diagnosis to radon exposure. The Lung Cancer Alliance states non smokers make up 18-percent of lung cancers.