Many Minnesota residents may be unaware that lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of men and women in the U.S., accounting for about 1 in 4 cancer deaths. It is estimated that in 2018 alone, 3,980 people in Minnesota will be diagnosed with lung cancer. One of the reasons that lung cancer is so deadly is that it is often diagnosed in its late stage, after the disease has already spread.

As a pulmonologist, I have seen firsthand the impact that this terrible disease has on residents of Minnesota and their families. Although smoking is the most common cause, I have never met anyone who deserved lung cancer. Treatment for advanced-stage disease has improved dramatically, but deaths from lung cancer are best avoided by primary prevention and early detection.

More needs to be done to raise awareness of lung cancer and the availability of lifesaving lung-cancer screening. That’s why I encourage local residents who smoked or still smoke to visit SavedByTheScan.org to take an easy lung-cancer screening eligibility quiz and learn if they may be eligible for screening with a low-dose CT scan of the chest. Screening is covered by Medicare and most private insurance plans with no cost sharing for those who meet the high-risk criteria.

If each of the 8 million Americans at high risk were to be screened, we’d have the opportunity to save about 12,000 lives each year.

Dr. David Midthun, Rochester

The writer is pulmonologist at the Mayo Clinic and a local leadership board member for the American Lung Association in Minnesota.

FREEDOM OF THOUGHT

Here’s another side to the dispute over ‘what stories we must tell’

I agree with the Oct. 20 commentary “State shouldn’t decide what marriage stories we must tell.” But not in the way the writer intends.

I mostly agree that government should not be able to force us to tell stories that violate our belief systems. The writers, who own a small film production company, protest being required to tell marriage stories of same-sex couples that conflict with their Christian beliefs. However, I object to their assertion that we all share this common story. I am a “none,” as are about one-third of Americans in 2018, and I do not believe this story, yet I am forced to acknowledge it almost every day.

When I handed a $20 bill to the cashier to buy my Mega Millions tickets, it was emblazoned with “In God We Trust.” Not my God. When I attend a county board meeting or many other local community gatherings, there’s a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, including the words “under God.”

Many people argue that these are part of our shared tradition. I believe in tradition. In fact, I think we should use the original Pledge of Allegiance, as composed in 1892, that did not contain the phrase “under God.” That phrase was added in 1954 by an activist Congress. (Yes, activism happens on both sides.) Also, many states still require “so help me God” be recited as part of numerous oaths. When I choose to conscientiously object to these intrusions, I risk retribution, especially in conservative locales. Is that fair?

The writer insists he doesn’t want to force others to tell the stories of Christianity. I await his efforts to change our currency, signs in public buildings, oaths, pledges and oh-so-many other instances in which I and a growing number of Americans are forced to acknowledge a story that conflicts with our First Amendment right to be free from religion.

To answer the writer’s last question — “if the government is not willing to extend [freedom and tolerance] to us, will it be willing to extend it to you?” — maybe I will find out at the next Powerball drawing when I hand the cashier a bill with whiteout covering the phrase that forces me to agree to a story that violates my belief system.

Rod Greder, Pine City, Minn.

THE VALUE OF THE PRESS

If you dislike American media, please consider the alternatives

I believe in a free media, and that freedom of the press is one of the pillars of democracy. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” To ensure that our government is accountable to the people, we need to know what’s going on in front of the cameras and behind the scenes.

The alternative is state-run media, such as that in Russia, China and North Korea, or a privately owned press controlled by the government, as in Saudi Arabia. These authoritarian governments tell people how they are supposed to think, discouraging conflicting views. Journalists are punished, sometimes with their lives (most recently Jamal Khashoggi), for saying or publishing anything that does not fit with the information put forth by their governments. At a campaign rally in Montana, our president extolled the virtues of a congressman who body-slammed a reporter, and his audience laughed and clapped. The behavior of both the president and the audience concern me. I encourage all American citizens to really think about what our country would be like without freedom of the press or a free media. Sometimes you don’t realize what you have until you lose it. We need to value and support our reporters.

I would like to close by thanking all local, state, national and international journalists — with special remembrance to those who have lost their lives doing so, for reporting real news and telling it like it is.

Carol Hoyem, Hastings

THE VALUE OF VOTING

Change can happen only if you exercise your civic duty

We live in a democracy — a real one, not like those with voter intimidation and ballot-box stuffing. In America, every vote counts.

So, whatever your political persuasions, vote in 2018. If you don’t like what the party you usually favor is doing, vote for someone else, but if you can’t bring yourself to vote for the opposition, vote for a third-party candidate. If you are young and disgusted with politics as usual — vote. If you are old and disgusted with any aspect of the current political situation — vote. If you are appalled by the lack of honesty in politics — vote. If you have never voted before because you fear it makes no difference — vote; if any election in recent memory will make a difference, this one will.

Americans kicked out Richard Nixon and voted out Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. We have the power to bring change, but we can’t if you don’t vote.

Frederic J. Anderson, Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS DEVELOPMENT

That 2040 Plan is advancing, whether you want it or not

The Minneapolis Planning Commission will meet at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 29 to rubber-stamp the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Although the meeting occurs when many of us have to work, it is important that all who are concerned about the future of our city attend. The city has ignored at least 85 percent of the public comments as it revised the plan, amounting to discounting the opinion of more than 9,000 citizens.

No other city in North America has zoning regulations similar to what is being proposed, and the plan will likely actually make housing less affordable. According to the city’s organizational chart, all the city planning and urban planning positions are currently listed as “vacant,” leading to the question as to whether anyone in the development of the plan has any expertise in the drafting of zoning regulations.

It is critically important that the citizens of this community express their views on this issue even if the Planning Commission and City Council don’t want to hear them.

Jerome Allen Ritter, Minneapolis