A megaphone, a path with cars moving along it, an airplane, and a set of chairs with microphone

Becoming a Lung Cancer Advocate

Never in a million years did I think I would become a lung cancer advocate. I know I didn’t wake up one day and said, “I’m going to do advocacy work for lung cancer.” It just fell in my lap after my diagnosis. I figured why not? Someone has to do it and I got that spark and that determination to make a difference and Juanita the lung cancer advocate was born!

Three promises to myself

When I was diagnosed, I promised myself 3 things. First to travel as much as possible, second to live life to its fullest, and third to educate and bring awareness about lung cancer.

I’m happy to say I’m keeping my promise. I wasn’t sure how to start so my husband would record me, and we created many vblogs and shared my story and journey on Facebook. He then created a page for me on Facebook “Juanita’s Fight Against Lung Cancer.” I was invited to my very first Lungevity’s Hope Summit and that was when I knew I had to advocate and use my voice.

My journey into advocacy

My first appearance was back in the fall of 2015 or possibly the beginning of 2016. I was selected to participate on a panel for Pfizer to share my story with employees of Pfizer in Orlando FL. Shortly after that, I was asked if I wanted to be a guest on Dr. Phil to share my story and of course, I said yes! This was my opportunity to bring awareness to lung cancer. From that point on my advocacy took off!

I’ve participated in the Department of Defense, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) as a Consumer Reviewer, for the Lung Cancer Research Program several times. I had the pleasure of attending the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 2018 World Conference on Lung Cancer, in Toronto, Canada, and was awarded a Patient Travel Grant.

I was also a participant in GO2 Foundation Lung Cancer Advocacy Summit in DC in 2019 and I recently was awarded the Rays of Hope Award. I’m a member of the LCFA Speakers Bureau and I’ve done two biomarker campaigns for Lungevity Foundation. I also participated in ASCO - ACCC (Association of Community Cancer Centers) Steering Group and Patient Partners Advisory Group this past winter.

I’ve had the privilege to share my story during a town hall meeting for Takeda in Boston, MA, and a webcast La Voz, where questions were asked about the Latin community and having lung cancer. My story has been published in Cure Magazine, my local newspaper NWI Times, Cancer Grace a Patient Interview, Patient Resource Cancer Guide and Bonnie J Addario’s book The Living Room. A Lung Cancer Community of Courage.

A honor to advocate for this community

In 2018 I started to do Facebook live interviews with lung cancer and other cancer patients, so they could share their stories. I named my show Thriving and Hope with Juanita. Not sure why I stopped doing them because it was very educational and informative, and people got a chance to hear the lives of so many people living with lung cancer and other cancers.

But recently I’ve been thinking about doing them again, there’s so many stories to share and we need to continue to educate and bring awareness. So now being a lung cancer advocate is a must and an honor for my lung cancer community.

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