8 hands stacked one on top of one another in a show of unity and support.

The Upside of Community

My advocacy began just about 13 years ago. In 2010 my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and lost her life within the same year.

The energy and the force within me to go forward was the mission and necessity in beginning my advocacy. The importance for me at that time to highlight the dire straits of lung cancer was a no-brainer for me; it also helped me keep my mother's memory alive. The process of moving forth has been met with very interesting insights and challenges.

Dismantling the stigma

Something about this particular cancer gets people on the slow stance of understanding it and removing the stigma that is strongly attached. I tend to find it related to a throw-away conversation, as there are many misconceptions and opinions of the matter, which is what actually spearheaded my advocacy.

At this point, we have to refrain from thinking smoking is the “Well, that’s what you get” attitude. In my experience, I saw a lot of a lack of communication, demeanor, and attitude. At a point, it seemed as if the forces to connect the dots were indeed missing.

In my experience, finding resources, even from the more reputable sources, was not giving the best go-to, whether they didn’t exactly provide the best course of direction due to proximity or the answers to the basic questions were lacking.

Seeking reliable resources

Unfortunately, finding the best source for information on lung cancer is not an easy fix. It takes a lot of turning here and there; if you’re lucky, your medical team can help with guidance, but this is not always the case like so many patients and care partners.

It’s important to find a community that gives you a safe place to ask questions. There are some resources that have done better jobs than others and some that went away altogether.

The power of community

It’s here that the bread and butter in figuring this out, and no matter what is available, comfort level is a major factor for many. Is there a place that allows people to share their stories, get some kind of answers, or an eye to what to expect?

Whether it’s being the only person in the group trying to relate but still lacking ease of speaking their truth on how they are feeling and doing, the upside of a community is needed, and though some may not gravitate towards it right away, all points mentioned return back to wanting a community that cares.

I appreciate the forums in our community that allow for those that need to connect freely or just read other reflections on this terrifying situation. As a former care partner, the story doesn’t quite end in lending my voice or encouragement for those that need it and letting everyone know that you got this and are not alone.

Finding a community that makes sense for you to learn, question, and build confidence in taking control of your care with your medical team is a positive start in self-advocacy.

Carry on!

 The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile….when you feel like it

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