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Carmella A.

May of 2006 my sister Linda became ill with what we thought was pneumonia. It lasted all summer long. Every time I talked with her over the phone her coughing got worse and worse. In September 2006, she finally got her doctor to send her to a pulmonary doctor and she had a bronchoscopy. I remember the Friday afternoon she told me over the phone she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

It was a shocker to all of us because my beautiful sister Linda was a non-smoker. We learned in elementary school in the '60s you get lung cancer from smoking. In May of 2007, my beautiful sister Linda died at the age of 53 years old of lung cancer. Our family was devastated. I had learned after Linda's death that more women die of lung cancer than ovarian and breast cancer. Also that lung cancer is one of the cancers that receive the least amount of money for research.

In the Fall of 2010 my cousins from Connecticut told me about a stair climb for the American Lung Association in Boston. As reluctance as I was because I was not athletic, I signed up and we came up with our team name "Linda's Purple Dragonflies." Purple was Linda's favorite color and dragonflies because they have a short life but live to the fullest, living in the moment, and that is how I saw my sister Linda. I have learned later that lot of cultures see dragonflies to symbolize happiness, joy, light, harmony and so much more.

Since that climb in February of 2011, Linda's purple dragonflies team member now climb for a lot more than lung cancer. One year our team member's young son had died of complications to asthma, others have family member with COPD and other lung diseases; we climb for all of them. We started this team to do something positive in Linda's memory. Now our team climbs in Boston, in Delaware and also for the last three years every May, we cycle 25 miles in New Hampshire. Linda's Purple Dragonflies team will climb and cycle until there is a cure for lung cancer and all lung diseases. For me, I climb for my beautiful sister Linda who died too young.

First Published: October 29, 2013

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