Although it has been two and a half years since Ricki Shepard lost her mother to stage 4 lung cancer, she continues to honor her memory. On May 8th, Mother’s Day, she will celebrate her mom by participating in the American Lung Association in Indiana’s Fight For Air Climb, presented by Anthem, at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“My mom was the strongest person I’ve ever known. Even before she went through cancer, she faced a lot of hardship in life but never let it get her down or interfere with her priorities in life – family, job, community service,” said Shepard. “I feel like a climb in her honor every year is the least I can do.”
Shepard’s mother suffered from allergies and asthma for a long time. Although she quit smoking in 1994, her asthma symptoms and cough progressed over the years. With Shepard and her sister both being respiratory therapists, they were able to educate their mother about the disease.
In 2015, Shepard’s mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Her initial prognosis was poor, but she ended up responding well to chemotherapy and was taken off oxygen. Shortly after, she went through different chemotherapies and immunotherapies for three years. During that time, Shepard’s mother rarely complained and fought so hard until the end. She passed away from lung cancer in 2019 at 66 years old.
Shepard has participated in 13 Climbs total. For the past three years, she has helped put on the “Catch Your Breath Comedy Night” show in Indianapolis to raise money for the event. Shepard is hoping to raise over $3,000 in this year’s Climb.
“In 2008, a Lung Association representative came to the hospital where I was working and shared information regarding the Climb and the organization,” said Shepard. “Being a respiratory therapist, the Lung Association’s goals for the community seemed to align with our goals as healthcare providers. It was a no-brainer to lend support.”
Funds raised at the Indianapolis Climb will support the Lung Association’s efforts to end lung disease through local programs, advocacy efforts and lifesaving research. For more information about the Climb, and to register, visit FightForAirClimb.org/Indianapolis.
The Lung Association is committed to the health and safety of its participants and volunteers. The organization will continue to closely monitor public health conditions and CDC guidelines for COVID-19. Everyone is encouraged to check the Climb website for the most updated information leading up to the event.