In the past several months, our lung cancer community has suffered some devastating blows. We have lost quite a few of our most energetic and exciting advocates. Even with all the research and new treatments, death is still a part of cancer. Unfortunately, there comes a time as an advocate when we have to take a deep breath and step back to ground ourselves and get back to our purpose.
Dedicating my time to helping others
I ask myself quite frequently, "why me?" but I already know the answer to that. My upbringing, losing 8 aunts and uncles to cancer, and ultimately my diagnosis of lung cancer brought me to the point in my life where it is most gratifying to me to help others that I see struggling with their new diagnosis. I cannot change their physical health, but I feel I can help bring them some stability in their mental health.
We all go through the same things -- denial, anger, determination, fear -- and we need to know that it does happen to everyone. I have spent the past 5 years and 10 months helping others feel some type of positive feelings while entering this journey.
Take a break if you need it
But when you lose a person a month, for multiple months in a row, it can be quite depressing. It is times like that that we as advocates, need to take a step back for a month, a few months or even longer. Whatever makes you feel energized again. Don't let sadness get you down for long -- don't stay sad -- many of those whom we have lost were strong advocates while going through treatments. Use their life as support for you to keep going.
I have taken a step back this past month or so to regroup my thoughts in my head. No advocacy. No mentoring new patients. Just mentoring myself and getting myself ready to tackle my journey and continue on. I, personally, am currently in the process of determining what treatment to switch to, so this is a good time for me to become a recluse and do my research on what's out there, what is new, what is promising and how I can help others.
Don't put life on hold
Let me take this moment to state, this is not just for patients but for our caregivers as well. This disease is just as hard, if not harder, on our caregiver(s) and we must give them the same consideration. Just because we have cancer, daily life does not end. We still have families to care for, some of us still work, and above all, life to be lived. Use this time wisely. Find a way to continue to do what you want to do while finding a way to do what you must do.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.
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