Advocacy Looks Different For Everyone
Last updated: February 2021
I just surpassed 8 years of living with lung cancer during lung cancer awareness month. That month is in November for those who didn't know. Eight years of making friends, and losing so many to this beast. I was diagnosed in 2012 but didn't get into knowing fellow survivors until my first lung cancer summit with LUNGevity. This is where I've made some amazing connections and I've also lost some great friends I've met over the years.
LUNGevity is great if you're a patient just starting out with lung cancer and feel alone. It is a lonely and scary time. But each year the summit brings together people from all over the country, dealing with the same fears, loneliness, and longing for their former life as you. I've attended all but one since 2014. When leaving, I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on advocating more. So, this "high" only lasts so long.
Don't forget about lung cancer awareness
The first couple of years I was like this every year. I went to speaking events, participated in so many events, and was a very outspoken advocate. Lung cancer advocacy was my life. I stood up to companies that didn't recognize lung cancer awareness. I was a big lung cancer advocate on Twitter, reminding people that breast cancer isn't the only cancer out there and that lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer. My daughter and I even stood up to her elementary school. Not so much me, but she wore white during breast cancer awareness day and told the principal that she did that because there was no lung cancer awareness day. I couldn't believe my daughter thought to do this on her own.
He promised her they would have one. Instead they discontinued any cancer awareness days. Par for the course today I am extremely proud that she did this for me. She is a young advocate in the making. I can see it already. She did all of this at the age of 8 and she will be 16 next month.
I couldn't be more proud of my daughter
So, for over half of her life, I've been living with lung cancer. My daughter has to worry about her mother dying daily. And when I lose loved ones to the disease, I try to fight back the tears but she knows. She is always there to comfort me. I couldn't be more proud of her.
I'm supposed to be the one fixing her and supporting her when times get rough. But she doesn't want to stress me out by even talking about her worries. I hate it. Occasionally, we do have breakthrough moments where we argue and she breaks down and tells me how she really feels. Of course, I worry about her and thrilled she is turning into another me. She's willing to stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves. I couldn't ask for a better daughter.
Be an advocate in your own way
When she was in grade school she would always stand up for one little girl that had brain cancer. Other kids would make fun of the way the little girl looked. My daughter was not having it. She was also about a foot taller than the rest of the kids in her school and placed third in sparring in the nation in karate. Other kids really didn't want to get on her bad side. I had so many teachers tell me how empathetic she was, meaning empathy at such an early age is usually a sign of a highly intelligent individual.
My point to this article is that you can be an advocate in your own way. You don't need to travel or be on top of every treatment. But through friends and family, we keep pushing until we prove to the world that lung cancer is worth the research.
Happy Lung Cancer Awareness Month! What does self-advocacy mean to you?