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Rest in Peace, My Friend

I think it was April 2015 at LUNGevity’s Hope Summit when I met Karen Loss. We were at the same table. She also was on a panel with other authors. She later told me that she had suggested the Summit feature lung cancer advocates/survivor authors, rather than other types of authors.

Meeting Karen Loss

We had several discussions later when I sought her advice about writing my own book. Her suggestions were invaluable. LiveLung, the nonprofit I founded, brought Karen to speak at one of our lung cancer support groups in Greenville, SC. We gave attendees a copy of Karen’s book, “Trekking Through Cancerland.” Karen had survived two different types of cancer prior to her lung cancer diagnosis.

In 2016, Karen served on a LungCAN panel at the National Press Club kicking off Lung Cancer Awareness Month. As it turned out, coincidentally, there were three lung cancer survivors there who were book authors: Karen, Montessa Lee and me.

Karen at the Life and Breath Rally

If you attended the Life and Breath Rally you may have been surprised to hear Karen. She always spoke powerful and eloquently, but never more powerful than she did that day. She was always passionate about lung cancer advocacy but there was something different about her speech that day. I mentioned what a powerful message she had. She responded by saying something that I do not recall the exact words but her message was loud and clear. This is urgent! There is no more time for niceties.

“This isn’t a game to us,” Karen said Nov. 2, 2017 on the Capitol grounds. “It’s life and death. And too many of us are already dead. That’s why there’s only 150 of us here. You know why so few lung cancer patients speak out? It is because they’re dead. I’m not going to pussyfoot around…If we leveled the entire House of Representatives that’s how many people die every single day of our disease…It’s time to hear us and to act…We need more funding and we need it now — for research,” Karen rallied. “There’s no choice in this. There’s no time to wait because you know what? We’re out here dying. Normally, I’m a nice, calm gentle, friendly soul. But I have had it up to my eyeballs with this.”

Hear Karen’s own voice at the Life and Breath Rally.

Celebrating Karen’s memory

Karen was an amazing lung cancer advocate. But she was also an interesting and wonderful person aside from her advocacy. She loved animals and even had created a successful dog walking business. She was a person of deep faith, a faith we share. She loved adventure and was always kind. I miss her but am grateful to have known her and greatly comforted in knowing she is no longer suffering. I am a better person for having known Karen Loss.

Like everyone who knew Karen, her sudden decline took me by surprise. I wish I had known that she was not going to be with us much longer. When I last saw Karen, she seemed to do well. We never know, though, do we? Rest in peace, my friend. I will see you on the other side.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.