Two white women with grey hair one shoulder length one in a bob stand next to each other with their arms around each other in a green garden. They wear purple T-shirts with the words Lung Cancer Awareness written on them.

When Sally Hayton, from Bury, was told she had lung cancer at age 49, at first, she thought it couldn’t be true. After all, she had never smoked.

“I had this idea that lung cancer was something that only happened to older people who had smoked 50 cigarettes every day, all their lives,” she said. “I’d never smoked so I didn’t think I could ever get it!”

Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in Greater Manchester. Every year, more than 2 million people around the world are diagnosed with the disease. Most people who develop lung cancer have a history of tobacco smoking, but approximately 10% to 20% of people who develop lung cancer have never smoked. About 6,000 non-smoking Britons a year now die of lung cancer.

Two white women with grey hair wearing purple T-shirts and the words: Lung Cancer Awareness stand under a rainbow umbrella in a garden.To mark Lung Cancer Awareness Month, friends Sally Hayton and Sally Hall are sharing their experiences to raise awareness of lung cancer in ‘never smokers’ – people who have smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their life.

The two women met at a lung cancer patient support group. They both have stage 4 lung cancer which is considered incurable but treatable. Nine years since their diagnosis they are both still here thanks to research and improvements in treatments. Now they volunteer with Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance helping to make improvements for other lung cancer patients and working with healthcare professionals to raise awareness.

Sally Hayton, now 58, a retired occupational therapist, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 and treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

She said: “Since I’ve been diagnosed, I know lung cancer can affect anyone. I’ve met people in support groups in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s and beyond. The youngest person I met was just 17. If you’ve got lungs, you can get lung cancer. It’s so important that people realise this.