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An Athlete’s Battle is Proof That Lung Cancer Can Strike Anyone

Photos: Stephi Jean Photography

While out for a run one day in late 2016, Rachael Malmberg suddenly felt a severe pain radiating from her neck to her rib.  A star hockey player for the University of Minnesota and Team USA women’s teams, Malmberg, 31, was used to pushing through body aches and has a high tolerance for pain. But when she couldn’t finish her run, she sensed it was something more serious than working out too hard.  

After a couple of doctor visits Rachael began to feel soreness under her arm. A CT scan revealed a mass on her lung. 

“Since I’m young and had no symptoms of cancer, the doctor thought perhaps a recent strep throat infection had developed into pneumonia,” she explained. After a round of antibiotics, a second CT scan revealed no change. “That’s when reality hit that something was very wrong,” Rachael said. The doctors soon diagnosed her with lung cancer that had even spread to her brain.

HIDDEN ENEMY: The cause of Rachael’s condition was radon gas, an odorless and carinogenic gas. This condition is preventable, but only if you take the steps to test your home.

Rachael was young, in top physical shape and never smoked a cigarette. Searching for answers, she and her husband learned indoor radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. Home testing revealed they had a high concentration of the invisible, odorless, carcinogenic gas. They immediately had a radon mitigation system installed.  

Rachael endured hours of radiation, a grueling battery of procedures, drugs, tests, hospital visits and staggering medical bills that left her physically, emotionally and spiritually drained.  Thankfully, the lung tumor shrunk enough to be removed safely, and, with the help of a $20,000-a-month medication, her brain tumor disappeared — leaving her cancer-free, at least for now.  

“I don’t want anybody else to go through what I’ve been through,” Rachael said. “Radon-induced lung cancer is preventable, but only if you test and mitigate if the levels are high. Don’t wait until it’s too late.”

Radon gas can be easily measured and affordably mitigated by a professional certified by the National Radon Proficiency Program or state-licensed where applicable.

Dallas Jones, Executive Director, American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, Inc., [email protected]

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