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Linnea Olson Talks About Clinical Trials, Triage, Dating, Sex And Being A Writer (Part 2)

I sat down with Linnea Olson, a lung cancer advocate and survivor, to talk about her experience with clinical trials, building relationships, and intimacy after lung cancer.

Reflections on the currently health crisis

Christine: During this pandemic, many patients are worried that, due to their cancer, they won’t have access to proper medical care and resources. What’s your opinion on this triaging dilemma? What would you do if you were a doctor?

Linnea: Triage. This is tough. Fortunately, the situation with ventilators and other resources has not yet been as dire as predicted. It is an awful decision to have to make -- who has access to potentially life-saving measures and who does not. And as someone with stage IV lung cancer, it is hard not to take it personally. I don’t know what I’d do if I was a doctor. Truthfully, I wish more attention had been paid early on so that the question of triage was allocating resources was not even an issue.

Dating with cancer comes with its challenges

Christine: The first time I met you was at the ILCSC-2019 conference. I was shocked but also impressed that you were speaking so openly and candidly about sex and dating as lung cancer patients. Would you mind telling us about some of your experiences? What have you learned?

Linnea: Online dating has been an interesting and overall positive experience. I treat it like a playground -- I don’t stand on the sidelines, I go out and play without too much concern about getting hurt. And you get what you give. That said, dating with a terminal illness is challenging. I have learned a lot about the human heart -- mine and theirs. But ultimately the experience has only made me more confident -- not necessarily the outcome I expected. And although I have yet to meet a life partner, I have made some fabulous friends.

Finding a source of inspiration and passion

Christine: I admire you as a writer. You are sensitive and observant and write unapologetically about life. How and when did you start writing? Where did your passion come from?

Linnea: I was a reader as a kid -- face always burrowed in a book. I love words and stories. When I was younger I wrote a lot of poetry and started college with a creative writing scholarship. I am also unapologetic -- about my cancer, about my opinions and viewpoints and I write openly about my feelings and experiences. I am also irreverent and believe myself funny so I am hoping that comes out in my writing as well. My passion is both a need to tell my story but also the fact (very important) that the readers engage -- I get so much in return. In some ways, I think my blog has saved me.

My closing thoughts

The above is Linnea's answer to my questions. The meeting went very well. There were a lot of questions about clinical trials. For Canadian patients, it's very eye-opening. It's difficult to talk about dating and sex, but lung cancer is no longer "old" fellows' disease. Also, what I got from Linnea's talk about dating and sex is more about confidence and self-esteem.

Due to the requests from other lung cancer survivors, I'm going to organize another Zoom meeting about dating, sex, marriage, and relationship soon. Linnea and three other lung cancer patients will continue to talk about these topics.

Thank you, Linnea.

Read the continuation of Christine's conversation with Linnea in Linnea Olson Talks About Clinical Trials, Triage, Dating, Sex And Being A Writer (Part 1).

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