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Swimming Upstream as a Lung Cancer Advocate

It’s hard enough fighting stage 4 lung cancer w/brain mets without adding on to the fight by being an advocate! Sometimes, I feel like a salmon swimming upstream without a current. But I know it’s what I have to do to help annihilate this disease. Turn it into hopefully a manageable chronic disease, versus lethal. I stood back watching others advocate for a year or so after I had my initial diagnosis in 2014 at age 57.

Then… I met Chris Draft doing a rappel off of a building here in Atlanta. We both rappelled 20 stories to raise awareness and funding for research. At that point I caught the ‘bug’ and became a full fledged advocate, raising almost $50K in funds since with support/help from friends and family of mine that also want to raise funding for research.

My story has been told countless times and many people learned that they too could get lung cancer, that they didn’t have to smoke to get it. In that time countless friends I’ve met at conferences or on lung cancer websites, have lost their lives in the battle. It seems that the ones that have most recently succumbed, were young, vibrant and under 40, leaving grief stricken families in the wake of this horrible disease and death. More has to be done in researching what exactly is IT?? Smoking? Not always. Breathing? Yes. But breathing what? Research is desperately needed so more lives aren’t snuffed out early. What environmental elements could lead to triggering a rogue genetic mutation to occur? Early detection is also needed to intervene and catch lung cancer early. The Stand up 2 Cancer Interception DREAM TEAM will attempt to tackle lung cancer before it becomes a life threatening disease with the new grant through (THANK YOU!) Lungevity and ALA. Here‘s the write up and intent of the study.

I hope everyone that is able to raise awareness and funding for research in the many ways we are able to. There are walks and runs but my favorite way is to participate in the Team Draft SUPER BOWL CHALLENGE FOR LUNG CANCER SURVIVORS. This challenge was initiated and inspired by Chris Draft and his wife Keasha (who died of lung cancer in 2011). You can see a little bit here about this last challenge. The next challenge starts in November. Be ready!

This year I’ve been successful in taking on members of Congress and Senate to support the Women and Lung Cancer Preventative Act. My own Senator Johhny Isakson himself losing his father to lung cancer. I’ve had opinions published in our Atlanta newspaper on lung cancer funding. In all of these cases I’ve had to fight to get people to listen. It’s my observation that my continuous swimming upstream is actually fueling my life and not draining it. I feel empowered more than ever to raise awareness and money for research. So we ALL- mutations- can benefit from new drugs that reach us quicker. Expanded clinical trials sites, so no one is left out due to vicinity or socioeconomic status. Please join us! We NEED YOU to win this fight!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    12 months ago

    @pattywatkinsros1, Thank you for your fight! We need more of you to help push for those who don’t have the fight left in them. That swim upstream takes many of us to make a dent, and I’m with you with my own advocacy efforts. We’ll win this eventually. We won’t give up! Best

  • jdpatraw
    12 months ago

    This is awesome. You have done so much. I do donate in Minnesota but think what you are don’t is so special. Thank you.

  • jdpatraw
    12 months ago

    Sorry meant to say what you are doing

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