Our Lung Cancer Tribe
Pre-cancer, I had friends, family, and loved ones that cared about me and I was content with that. After my lung cancer diagnosis, I felt alone, like no one was understanding what I was going through. For the first 3 months, my mind was in a very dark place, I was depressed, lost, and scared of everything. I then began to do my own research and found that online, there were so many lung cancer survivors out there, they were connecting with each other and I wanted in!
Integrating into the Lung Cancer Family
Many of us, as survivors, call our lung cancer family our "tribe". Some have met in person first and then continued their friendship online, others have met online and then are able to meet in person at lung cancer advocacy events and summits. I remember being apprehensive about talking to other survivors. I felt as though I knew nothing and I had so many questions to ask, I didn't want to seem like an annoying "newbie" that didn't know when to be quiet. I joined some Facebook support groups for lung cancer survivors, and even some for my particular genetic mutation. It was there that I met my true "lifeline" as you may call her. I now call her my "lung cancer best friend" because we just clicked from the start.
I was finally able to share my deep thoughts, fears, and questions with someone who was going through the exact same thing that I was. It was a relief for me, because it actually made me feel a bit normal again. We would message almost daily about complaints about side effects, worries about scans, or even non-cancer related things, our relationships, work issues, and just how to deal with all of the stress that cancer causes. After this first connection was made, I made so many more. Most of it was done online, and that was fine for me, because I knew if I needed something or had a question, there was always someone that was one Facebook message away that would be there for me.
A Community Full of Hope
The lung cancer community is the most welcoming, caring, and loving tribe of people I have ever encountered. Not only do they care about complete strangers, but they offer up their time to ease your concerns, they educate others about the disease, and are simply always there when you need more positivity in your day. I love my family dearly, I love that they care, worry, and think about me all the time, I wouldn't give that up for the world. But what I needed the most after diagnosis was to connect with others like me. It brought me out of my depression, it gave me a good kickstart to learn more about this disease I am fighting, and it also provided me with so many wonderful new friendships that I value so very much.
Our lung cancer tribe is pretty strong, we laugh together, cry together, and then bounce back and fight together to get our disease noticed more and funded more. Meeting so many survivors this past year was overwhelming, yet everything I wanted it to be. At the LUNGevity Hope Summit that was held this past April, I got to meet hundreds of people that I had been conversing with over the past 18 months. The hugs, the kisses, the smiles, it was all that we needed right then and there! Being involved with our tribe has given me great hope, it has made me increase my education about the disease, and has lead me to becoming a lung cancer advocate!
So, if you are newly diagnosed, if you feel as though you are alone, please remember that you are not! There are so many of us here, scattered across the United States, that are literally available in a moment's notice via Facebook, email, or phone. Connecting with my tribe was the best thing I have done for myself since diagnosis!
How have you found your own "tribe?" Share your story here.
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?