I know, we've all heard about the stigma of lung cancer. All you need is lungs to get lung cancer is our motto! We tell it to everyone we can so they understand the truth! But what happens when the stigma just hits too close to home? I see friends, family, and associates posting on Facebook fundraising for all diseases, cancers included, and they receive thousands and thousands of dollars in donations! So, why am I having a hard time raising a small $1,000 for a local 5k run here at home?
We All Know the Stigma...
When I was diagnosed, one of the first thoughts that ran through my head was, "I did this to myself". As a former smoker, I was disheartened, I was literally sick to my stomach that I caused this. Then my Oncologist stated, there is something driving your cancer, this was not caused by your limited smoking history. In the end, yes, my cancer was driven by the EGFR genetic mutation. At that time I knew nothing about lung cancer. My grandfather had passed in 2000 after a very short fight with this disease as chemo was too hard for him due to a heart condition. Now that I have this disease, and I am doing everything I can to get educated on it, I am feeling defeated when it comes to fundraising. The only answer I can come up with when I try to figure out why I have such a hard time getting donations (besides my crappy skills at being a saleswoman) is the stigma. If you are not educated on lung cancer, from the outside, this disease is thought of as a self-induced, therefore we aren't good enough to get donations?
Is Stigma Stopping Donations?
I have friends fighting other cancers. I have friends who have donation pages for other reasons, illnesses, car accidents, any reason that life really just throws something at you and you can't handle the financials of it all. These individuals are raising tons of money! I can't even cross the $1,000 barrier for lung cancer research. I feel sometimes like yelling at the top of a mountain with a Megaphone about all of of the statistics of lung cancer, how underfunded we are and how we are the top leading cancer killer. I post these facts on social media to get others to become educated, aware. Evidently, I'm not making that much of a difference and I need another way to bring awareness to this disease. I just find it pretty crappy that I'm pretty sure that my lack of donations is due to the stigma around this disease.
On the other hand, is it my friends? Is it because we are all working families that sometimes have a hard time making ends meet, therefore they can't afford to donate? What about those individuals (family included) that I know make way more money than most people I know, but still won't donate? What is the reasoning there? How do I fix this? This has become something that stresses me out because I want to do more, but I feel as though the stigma is limiting what I can actually do for this disease.
Let's Make the Invisible Visible
I've thought about a grassroots movement, bring all of the Survivors together in each major city and bombard our "downtown" areas with Lung Cancer Survivors. Engaging with normal people walking down the street to work, or lunch and asking them what do they know about lung cancer? Asking them if they think any of us have lung cancer? What about identifying any of us that may have terminal lung cancer! Is that how we get attention? Do we have to be in the public eye's face all of the time? How do we do that? These are all questions I am asking myself, you the reader, and the public. What do we have to do to make a difference, because right now I am not feeling like I am making enough of a difference!
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?