Antismoking Advocate Fights Lung Cancer
BETHESDA, Md. -- It's a cruel twist of irony, but a Bethesda woman who has led the fight against smoking in Montgomery County, Md., faces a new challenge -- lung cancer.
Alice Helm, 75, is a lifelong nonsmoker and has devoted much of her time to a campaign to ban smoking in Montgomery County's public places.
As co-chairwoman of the Montgomery Smoke Free Coalition, she helped lobby the county council to outlaw smoking in bars and restaurants. The law was struck down by a county judge in June 2000, and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has yet to rule on an appeal.
After suffering a nagging pain in her lower back, Helm discovered last summer that she had lung cancer, which had spread to her spine.
It is unclear what caused her cancer since she doesn't smoke, but chemicals such as radon and cadmium can also lead to lung cancer.
Helm's experience with the medical system, and the lack of attention she says older patients sometimes get, has led her to a new cause -- better services for seniors.