My Reasons To Advocate For Lung Cancer
I am and have always been a very religious person. Growing up in the bible belt has instilled a sense of purpose for my life, regardless of what happens. But just like separation of church and state, advocating for lung cancer is the same way.
You have to remember that not everyone thinks like you. I never really questioned, "why me", because I knew God had that answer and would let me know in due time.
Lung cancer has touched so many people in our country
On November 27, 2012, I was diagnosed so I count that as my cancerversary date. It will be 8 years this November. Eight years ago my life changed and would never be the same. And I get the looks I get when I say cancer was a blessing will never change.
Lung cancer has touched most people in our country, especially since it is the number one cause of cancer death. And it seems like the ages of people getting it are younger and younger.
I know several organizations are working on studies to find out why young people are getting lung cancer. If we can find out why these young patients are being diagnosed, maybe it can lead to better treatments or even a cure.
I was embarrassed to have lung cancer
I was embarrassed to have lung cancer. I thought people would just tell me, or say behind my back, it was my own fault. So, I hid in Atlanta, surrounded by my closest family and friends. I wouldn't answer the phone. Somehow word got out and I had people all over Facebook praying for me. They were messaging, asking what happened. I know they cared, but I was a mess.
How my advocacy work began
That's when I started my blog. It wasn't for attention or anything, but it was an outlet for me to share without feeling judged by others. I didn't lead an unhealthy life, but I remember feeling it was my fault somehow.
So when Chris Draft from the Team Draft Foundation called me and asked if I would be interested in advocating, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to share my story and let people know you only need lungs to get lung cancer. It's a sad fact, but incredibly true.
Grief is the hardest part of this disease
Over the years, I've lost many friends that I've made throughout this journey. One of the greatest I knew passing in 2018.
Dealing with the deaths is the hardest part of this disease. You spend the time building a rapport and relationship, and then we lose them. Sometimes without warning. Sometimes you can't even say goodbye.
Now with Covid-19 in the way, our people are dying alone. Imagine leaving this world alone, not being able to be surrounded by loved ones. Imagine your friends and family not being able to be there with you. It would be hard for them to forgive themselves regardless of the circumstances.
We all have different backgrounds and beliefs
This all leads me back to advocacy. Research matters, not just prevention. So many of us are still here. We need help. And we can't get more research going without funding.
At one point I did say, "If one person finds God because of what I've gone through, it'll have been worth every minute". Someone quickly told me that if I were trying to lead people to God, advocacy wasn't for me.
And as much as I love our father, I know not everyone has the same values as me. They don't believe the same things. So, as an advocate, I can still be a Christian and talk about my beliefs and love for Christ on my personal blog. But when advocating with a group, it's important to understand the group has differences. Not all of the members will have the same beliefs as you do.
A separation of church and advocacy
It may be hard to understand, but in order to connect and work professionally with others, we must have a separation of church and advocacy.
At first, I didn't think it was possible. Who was I without God? He is my everything. But I've since learned that religion and advocacy don't belong together.
Where have you found the most support during your lung cancer journey?