It Does Indeed Take a Village...and What a Village We Have!
I am elated today. And, I know many more of my fellow lung cancer survivors are feeling exactly the same way as I am.
"Why? What's there to be elated about when you're fighting lung cancer?" you might ask.
Well, today, there is much to celebrate.
Celebrating my community
One of the lung cancer foundations that provides funds for research, LUNGevity, hosts an annual National HOPE Summit every spring in Washington, DC. It is an awesome gathering of lung cancer survivors and caregivers. For many, it is the first time they have ever seen so many people in the same room who are surviving this insidious disease. LUNGevity brings in researchers and presents programs where participants hear real-life survival stories. As its name suggests, the conference is full of HOPE.
With the Summit being held in Washington, DC, it is expensive to attend, due to the cost of travel and hotel rooms. As a result and as an incentive for attendees to raise money for lung cancer research, the host nonprofit offers free rooms and airfare to anyone who raises $1,500. Since conference sponsors pay for these costs, all of the tax-deductible monies raised go to research.
Raising funds for lung cancer is not easy
The problem is that many of us have a lot of trouble raising funds. In the past, I have put out pleas for weeks, even months, for donations. I believe the smallest possible donation is $5. If enough people give $5, the money can be raised. But, too many of my friends are tight-fisted and don't even give the minimum.
It is distressing to me when I ask for donations and get nothing. It may not be true, but I take the lack of financial support, no matter how small, as a total lack of concern and care. After all, research is what has kept me alive for the past 4-1/2 years. So, I find the caring words a lot of my friends eagerly heap upon me somewhat hollow when I have so much trouble raising any money for the most underfunded cancer there is, lung cancer.
But, I digress! After being depressed and hurt over the difficulty I had raising money two years ago, I decided I would not put myself through it ever again. It just wasn't worth the personal pain. So, I didn't attend the HOPE Summit last year and had no intention of attending this year since I can't afford it unless I get the costs covered.
With the deadline to raise funds quickly approaching, I was beginning to see lots of comments on Facebook from people struggling to meet their goals. It seems my friends are not the only ones that are tightfisted when it comes to giving.
Survivors stepping up for other survivors
Now, this post becomes uplifting. As people posted that they were having trouble getting the money to attend, lung cancer survivors were coming to their rescue and donating to their efforts. One by one, those who had lost hope of getting to go to the conference this year suddenly found themselves with the money they needed.
A friend that I met at one of the Summits - and that's a huge bonus to attending - you make lifelong friends - asked me to at least try to raise the money to go. I scoffed, but thought, "What the heck? At least if I raise any money at all, it will go towards research. I'll just mentally prepare not to make the goal." After all, I had trouble raising the funds over months. How would I ever be able to raise them in days?
Do you know how? In less than 12 hours, my friends in the lung cancer community, along with some awesome family members and outside friends, came together and donated enough for me to attend the conference. What is usually a distressing time for me became a completely uplifting event. I've never seen such community!
A community that truly cares
One survivor had recently inherited some money from her dad. She gave that money to other lung cancer survivors struggling to attend. Another survivor still works and has more discretionary money than some of the rest of us and she donated hundreds of dollars to a number of us who wanted to attend. Some gave $25 to everyone who was still hoping to raise the $1500.
If that doesn't make you smile and have warm feelings toward the lung cancer community within which you find yourself, I don't know what will. You guys, we're in a tough situation, but we are in one of the most caring communities there could be. For that, I am very, very thankful.
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?