Getting support for lung cancer is something for which I feel an urgency. When I was first shockingly diagnosed 2 years and 7 months ago after the removal of a brain tumor, although never a smoker, with Stage IV Non- Small Cell Lung Cancer, Adenocarcinoma, I was desperately searching for places to find information and support. I was looking for the “Pink” like breast cancer has, that all powerful advocate that has changed the course of the disease. I had always been into the pink, having lost my mom to breast cancer and had a sister who was a survivor. What I found was that lung cancer was seemingly in a back room, and a lonely place. The statistics were grim and I was devastated. And all I could find was one person with whom to talk with at the Lung Cancer Alliance, a friend of a friend, and a few online blogs that were filled with despair. Gilda’s Club in Rochester was the only place where I found comfort, knowledge and distraction and the patient center at Roswell was upbeat and loving as well.
Late on a Saturday night, a friend called and told me about some people she had just met at a grassroots event sponsored by a group called Lung Force from the American Lung Association. Immediately upon meeting them, I knew I had found a place to pour hope in and out of me. I remember asking if there was a fundraising walk near me in Western NY, and the event indeed was on the “in the works” phase.
And it happened! It was one of the most joyful days of my life! Some might not know what this meant to me. Firstly, I was there and I was able. Secondly, the positive step towards hope, which this walk represented to me, meant a great deal in the middle of the nightmares of chemo, radiation, surgery, stereotactic radiation and on top of that, radioactive iodine treatment and tedious diet as I have papillary thyroid cancer as well. It helped to fill the void of having to step out of my beloved profession. It helped bolster me in my quest to stay by my family’s side and hope that they might have better detection and treatment should they also get the disease. More importantly, it fostered the awareness that more needs to happen to get at the vast causes beyond smoking, the things in our environment, in our food, in our habits. Today, the sky is brighter as I consider the positives for mankind that could come from our efforts.
I wish to thank all donors to Lung Force, my generous and loving friends, my medical team, Gilda’s in Rochester, and my husband and beautiful family for whom I fight so hard to stay with. How purposeful that makes me feel. I also thank the God who has guided my steps and held my hand and heart during this ordeal. I pray He guides and watches over you as well.
With Lung Force, I walked in a beautiful park with the beauty of Lake Erie, a sunset, and beautiful, caring people t to accompany me. We walked with determination, purpose, and joy. Together, we are helping Lung Cancer and lung health color be seen and heard, its impact to change the course of the disease to one of hope.