St. Louis Woman Climbs Tower to Support Organization That Helped Her through Crisis
(February 6, 2019) -
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St. Louis resident Kelly Engelman will admit that she hates climbing stairs, but the Fight For Air Climb at Metropolitan Square is her favorite time of year. She climbs to support the American Lung Association in Missouri, an organization that helped her during a very challenging time for her and her family.
For about a year, Engelman’s mother had been coughing and having trouble breathing. After being diagnosed with the flu and pneumonia, in April 2014, a test revealed that her mom had stage IV lung cancer.
“By the time it was caught, the cancer had spread to her brain, lymph nodes and her kidney,” said Engelman. “At the age of 23, I became my Mom's primary caretaker. I took her to every appointment, managed every medication, and ensured she was receiving the proper care.”
While taking care of her mother, Engelman struggled to find financial support to help them with her mother’s treatment costs. They applied for several grants and financial aid, but were denied.
“I felt defeated. I was supposed to be taking care of her and I couldn't even get her the assistance she needed,” she said. “I basically hit the end of my rope.”
She conducted online research and discovered the Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine, a resource staffed by nurses and respiratory therapists to help connect lung cancer patients and caregivers with the resources they need.
“Instead of diving right into the details of financial aid, or asking more about my mom's situation, the person I spoke with took the time to ask about me first. I didn't realize how badly I needed someone to care about me until it happened. As caretakers, we often spend so much time taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves. Not only did she give me the boost I needed, she also pointed me in the direction of some small grants that truly made a huge impact,” she said.
Sadly, just three months after being diagnosed with lung cancer, her mother succumbed to the disease. Shortly after her mother’s death, Engelman learned about the Fight For Air Climb at Metropolitan Square and decided to sign up to support the organization who helped her through one of the hardest experiences of her life.
“We have got to fight to find a cure for lung cancer, and we need to help those who aren't sure where else to turn. I owe a lot to this organization,” she said. “I advocate for them as a means of saying thank you, and as a way to let others know they are not alone.”
This will be Engelman’s third year participating in the Fight For Air Climb, and her third year as a co-captain of her team.
“It is my favorite part of the year. I hate climbing the stairs but I love doing this,” she added. “If I can help pay it forward to help people in the same situation it is worth it.”
The fight For Air Climb at Metropolitan Square is on Saturday, March 30 at 7 a.m. Registration for the 2019 Fight For Air Climb is currently open online or by calling 314-627-1025.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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