Finding New Meaning
I once had a vibrant, busy lifestyle. I worked full time, I spent time with my grandson, I went out socially. Now, not so much. 4 years and 10 months ago, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. Now after surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and currently immunotherapy, I found myself looking for things to do. Crafting could only keep me occupied for short amount of time. I napped and napped.
Discovering my community
Finally one day I decided I had enough of becoming a hermit and I went online. I met so many people on social media in the same situation as myself. I felt justified for the past year of napping. Others did it too. But what was about to happen was life-changing. As I met more and more people in my situation, I also discovered that there were serious gaps in the attention lung cancer patients are treated versus other cancer survivors. I found that the federal research funding for lung cancer was much lower than other cancers. I found non-profit groups that support us and our caregivers. These groups not only help us in our day to day activities, medical question support but also in our fight to get lung cancer to reach a point where people don't think you deserve it.
Becoming an advocate
Recently, the Senate voted for an additional six million dollars for lung cancer research funding however, the House voted it down. Now is when I get busy. I send emails to every Senator and Congressman I can. Do I care if I live in their state - Nope!! I write to other states and begin with, "I am writing on behalf of your citizens with this horrible disease, who can't speak for themselves." You can write and send your own letter to Congress here!
I attend conferences, meetings, summits. I speak to Oncology Pharmaceutical representatives to give them my perspective. EVERY company, individual, and group needs to know the facts and how we as patients endure each day. I have come to truly realize that every life matters.
So now, my days are filled with writing letters, moderating Lung Cancer Facebook groups, providing phone support to newly diagnosed patients, educating my nursing team on MY reality of a treatment day. These seem like silly trivial things but with hundreds of other survivors, we hope to make a difference.
How you can make a difference...
To see how you can make a difference, or if you need support, visit:
Both organizations provide support for people worldwide and both are non-profit organizations. I can guarantee your life will change after visiting these types of online organizations. Superb information and support.
I certainly don't want cancer. But now I feel was I given cancer to make a difference in one person's life -- then I have accomplished my goal.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?