Woman crowd surfing along many hands toward a large red flag

My Journey to the Hope Summit

I have to share with you my first Hope Summit experience. It was amazing! But before I get into it, I must tell you how I learned about LUNGevity and their Hope Summit for patients with lung cancer.

Getting a second opinion started my Hope Summit journey

In February 2015, I went to the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion. A nurse practitioner told me that my lung cancer was aggressive and I might have 18 months or so to live. I’ll never forget the horrible feeling I felt.

ALK-positive: a blessing?

The lung cancer specialist came in. He told me since I am ALK-positive, I could take this pill. I remember him saying, “If I got lung cancer, I would want to have ALK-positive.” He sounded very positive, but the nurse practitioner had already ruined it for me.

After my appointment, my husband and I went back to our hotel room. I became severely depressed. I did video blogs about my journey with lung cancer, so my husband decided to do one. But didn’t want to be in it, yet he made me. In that video, I was crying so much, and I was so angry.

My vulnerability opened up a huge door

Well, that video went viral, and a lung cancer sister saw it. She contacted the person who organized the Hope Summit and told her, “You need to contact Juanita.” And so she did.

Talking with Hope Summit organizers

I received information about LUNGevity and their Hope Summit and learned that there's a grant for first-timers. So, I applied for the grant and got it! In April 2015, I jumped on a plane and headed off to DC!

I wasn't alone - literally!

But before that, I met 3 beautiful ladies that were also lung cancer survivors. They were from the Chicago area, and so I felt so much better knowing I wasn’t alone in this fight. We bonded as we waited to board our plane, and once we got there, it was truly inspirational.

My experience at the Hope Summit

I was in a room full of lung cancer survivors, and to top it off, some of them were 5-plus-year survivors. Some people were nearly 10-year survivors. I was in awe; I couldn’t believe that they were surviving and thriving.

That weekend, my first Hope Summit in DC changed me forever! It was the most amazing yet very educational experience ever. I instantly had sisters and brothers that understood me, accepted me, loved me, and inspired me.

Making the most meaningful connections

I made so many friends, and even though our friendship and bond will be short, it’s a love and friendship that is worth every penny. Cherishing my lung cancer brothers and sister in my heart, I love them from afar. I cheer for them and send them a lot of love, hugs, and prayers.

I now make sure to attend every year with my husband. It’s an awesome experience for him as well. So, if you haven’t gone to one, I highly recommend you do. I promise you won’t regret it.

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