The Cry For Help that Falls on Deaf Ears
Do you hear that? Listen closely! That’s the sound of nothing when a stage IV lung cancer patient cries out to those in impressive advocacy roles in hopes of bringing lung cancer awareness to the state of Mississippi. The silence when it comes to lung cancer awareness or fundraising for research is deafening in my state. There’s been plenty of discussions for collaboration, but nothing comes to fruition. Even the local hospitals and cancer center say “we will get back with you”. We all know that is code for “just not interested”. Perhaps, I am a bit biased because this is my chapter in the cancer book. It’s gut-wrenching to realize that my state where I live and work and pay taxes refuse to support the number one cancer killer out of all cancers and even combined with others. I won’t start spewing statistics because if you are here, you already know what they read.
Did you write to your senators?
I wrote one of my lawmakers. Their secretary responded electronically and addressed me as Mr. Rickles, a greeting appropriate for a male. In my note, I even stated that my cancer was found following a FEMALE problem. So did he read it? Did anyone read it or did I get the same “we are working on it” form letter that is sent to everyone regarding topics of revitalization of downtown areas to animal control? It was laughable and disappointing, to say the least, and extremely belittling if I could just be honest. I just wanted to be heard or at least made to think I was heard. Clearly wasn’t the case. Horrible actually. I sit back and see friends posting their letters in other states and it seems their lawmakers listened and care. What is Mississippi doing?
When can lung cancer get in the spotlight?
I mentioned that I was biased; perhaps, selfish about my cancer. However, it’s disheartening to see high school football teams in every city and county in my state as well as the college teams wearing pink socks, pink mouthpieces, and pink collar jerseys for the month of October for breast cancer awareness. I realize that breast cancer is at an all-time rise and it takes lives too. My own mother was diagnosed just a few short months ago. I get it. I just want the same response or just a few hours.
I go into restaurants and they are serving beverages in teal green cups for ovarian cancer awareness. Again, this is important to bring awareness. When is lung cancer’s turn? When do we get our spotlight? I need it. My family needs it. The other patients in this state roaming around aimlessly hoping for a bright spot and a mere ray of hope need it. I cannot sit idle any longer. It’s time to execute.
Where to begin?
You might tell me to be the change. I am trying to be the change, but I have never organized such an event. I just want someone to listen and see the importance of bringing awareness to the community and state. I don’t want anyone to do the work for me. I just want someone to support me in assisting me with developing some sort of awareness event that can be repeated year after year -- then BOOM! Lung cancer is on the map in Mississippi. A guide if you will.
What would I say to the attendees of a lung cancer fundraising or awareness event?
NO! I didn’t smoke and NOW you know that you don’t have to smoke. Anyone else? WOW! The stigma! This isn’t a self-imposed cancer. I need to scream that from the mountaintops, right? My state isn’t helping me prolong my life. My community isn’t helping me prolong my life. Those close to me get it. The rest has no idea. Let’s raise some funds, pass out some door prizes, sell a t-shirt, and submit all proceeds to an organization actively involved in lung cancer research. Perhaps, that organization would even make a presence.
This is my cry to this community
It’s frustrating when you get emails to sign up for an event for lung cancer awareness and it requires a plane ticket. I’d love to tell my story but to my fellow Mississippians. My state. My community. Does anyone hear me? I am in a sea of people literally crying for help and nobody hears me.
In Mississippi, we run for everything. There’s a 5k or some marathon or triathlon every 2 days it feels like. These groups run sometimes when the only reason there is to run is to just run. Why aren’t we running for lung cancer? I am not in that runner community. In fact, the only place I run is to the bathroom. Do you get my drift? I digress!
How do I as we say down here “fix” this? How do I get people on board to listen to me and start the ball to rolling for an event? Is it up to just me? That seems overwhelming! Anyone else feels like this in your state and community? How did you get the ball rolling for your state to bring awareness to lung cancer?
Let’s create a movement for lung cancer! We deserve it!
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?