Hello November, The Awareness Month
Last updated: November 2021
November - the month we celebrate Thanksgiving and gratitude, but we also shake the bushes in bringing awareness to our disease and/or our loved one’s journey with lung cancer. I work hard in bringing awareness to my online community on social media platforms, but there is literally zero advocacy in the state of Mississippi.
The frustration of trying to be heard
I have called people. I have asked for help. I have been told that even ACS doesn’t have a lung person anymore. I offered to volunteer and was told no. I even pushed back pretty hard about what bringing awareness to this could mean for others. I was asked if there was any other topic I wanted to discuss and was basically hung up on. The local hospitals do lung cancer screenings for smokers only. They created an ad that said, “for current or smokers that have smoked in the last 10 years”. I was yelling at the television. I called their public affairs office, but they were not interested in hearing me as they were the “experts” on the topic.
We know how things work
Those of us here know how this thing works. We understand the statistics. We understand the importance of research and what that means for us. We understand the risk factors and the idea that often the only factor is having lungs and breathing. They don’t understand anything about our disease. It’s almost like they don’t want to. I have attempted to form a local lung cancer advocacy group or even a support group and nobody seems interested.
The local hospital has a lung cancer expert. This individual told me there wasn’t a need for anything like that here and added that there was a general support group I could attend if I wanted. Of course, with the recent pandemic, nobody is met anywhere in person for the past two years almost. The cancer center that I use 90 miles away doesn’t offer anything for lung cancer awareness. I sent them some brochures from an organization and did see them sitting on the table at one of my appointments.
The recurring theme of raising awareness for lung cancer
I have written on this before and it resurfaces over and over. We don’t even have a walk or a run for lung cancer in the state. I have asked for one over and over again. I have asked locals that plan these over and over again for assistance and you’d think I littered on their land. Here’s what I can do. I create t-shirts and sell them to my network for lung cancer awareness.
Last year I made “Hope” candles and sold to raise money. I have written my local politicians and beyond over and over again. I speak and share regarding my disease to my network on my social media platforms and church and anywhere else that I am asked or an opportunity arises. I have asked the local newspaper to pick up an article for me to bring awareness to the disease to encourage screenings and being aware of your body and ultimately to consider donating to lung cancer research. Some friends have painted rocks and left outdoors at various places for people to find. I know of people that have set up a lemonade stand with their children to raise money in their neighborhood.
There are plenty advocacy options
There are many advocacy options out there. I tend to want the big names out there jumping up and down for lung cancer. I want a white-out game at the local high school football stadiums. I want college football to acknowledge us. I want to go to my favorite sandwich shop and get a white cup that says “lung cancer awareness” as they do for so many other cancers.
We simply want to be heard
We simply want to be heard. We all have a voice and we all have a story to tell. I firmly believe that even in a small sector that our stories have a great impact. I refuse to stop telling my story. I refuse to give up hope. I know someone hears me and if it is just one, then I have done my part. I refuse to give up.
Happy Lung Cancer Awareness Month! What does self-advocacy mean to you?