Advocate Spotlight: Yolanda
LungCancer.net shares the stories and experiences of people living with lung cancer. We are highlighting the story of our advocate Yolanda who supported her mother throughout her lung cancer. Since her mother's passing, Yolanda has dedicated herself to advocating for greater lung cancer awareness.
This is Yolanda’s story...
Remembering back to my mother's lung cancer diagnosis
When my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer there was massive confusion in understanding her diagnosis. My mother went in for pneumonia and after spending two weeks in the hospital she was informed the following month that she had lung cancer. I can’t say for sure what and how the doctor advised her; I do know she went in for a follow-up after being in the hospital for weeks, and the definitive testing I believe stressed that her condition was lung cancer. It was a very stressful experience for my mother and the family.
It was clear something was not right whether it was lung cancer or the presumed pneumonia, as her breathing seemed to be compromised. I had to shift gears to be a support system, patient advocate, as well as a proxy. The array of emotions happened too quickly to let it sink what was actually happening. I had to be on top of paying my mother’s bills, insurance...she was adamant that those insurance payments were made as she may have had an inkling how her fate may end.
I can say shock and great concern was my initial reaction. My mother called me at my office and asked if I was okay as she always held concern for her children before displaying her own issues; she then proceeded to say, “They said I have lung cancer”.
Lessons from becoming a caregiver
As a caregiver, the biggest takeaway was the importance of ensuring that respect and accountability be at the forefront. I understood the importance of being asked to be my mother’s proxy, and in her own words. That speaks bountiful when dealing with something like this; this individual is leaving it up to someone else to make final and very important decisions about someone’s else health when they’ve become unable to deal with the technicalities of what is happening in that time and moment.
A reminder to the many dealing with similar stories would be; it really counts to let strength reign the hold here. How I had the strength to do and conquer the needed things at the time; it really blows my mind now how I got so much done in the time things became awry.
I stress with my own friends the need to have a will, living will, as well as health care proxy. I think when your younger you don’t factor in that you can be faced with health incidences in a blink of an eye. Those closest to you may not necessarily know how you would want to proceed with things, and having these conversations earlier helps prepare effectively in the case when needing to do so.
My family and community bring me joy
I have the joy of my 9-month old. I get to share my advocacy efforts with the hope they will follow in my similar steps.
I also appreciate the joy in starting a non-profit in memory of my mother, and keeping the dialogue open when it comes to advocacy in lung disease. I believe making these small grassroots efforts are important as they help reach the root of all communities.
A special memory with my mother
A fun fact is that my mother walked me down the aisle when I got married. It was different but the memory of that special day shared by a special woman in this way will stay with me forever.
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?