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Why I'm "Here"

I did not choose to be on this Lung Cancer Patient/Advocacy Road; it chose me. Had my late mother not been diagnosed with late stage inoperable lung cancer, I can say with a fair amount of certainty, I would not be on this road. We never considered the possibility of lung cancer because we did not know the facts. Lung Cancer is Not Just for Smokers.
I became an advocate because I did not want one other family to face the shock that our family did. NO ONE IS IMMUNE from a lung cancer diagnosis. My goal is to empower people with information in order to give them a fighting chance. My goal is to reframe the issue of lung cancer in order to address the social stigma currently associated with the disease. My goal is to support increased lung cancer research to find the cure.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Today is day one for this Blog and so I welcome all who will "hear me" and accompany me on the Trek- the arduous journey to find the cure for lung cancer. Why today? Today I addressed members of the NJ Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.It is not an every day experience driving to the State House in Trenton, going through three different security checkpoints, finally to be admitted to the huge, elegantly appointed committee room, where my name was added to the "list".
I was prepared to spend many hours sitting and waiting my turn - another lady waiting brought her knitting- however I was lucky, as the Committee Chair changed the agenda and within minutes it was my turn to speak. I thought I would be nervous however the words just poured out. I shared with members of the committee what I have learned since becoming a lung cancer advocate- why it is important to increase research funding and why smoking cessation alone will not erradicate this disease. Members of the committee needed to hear that lung cancer research is significantly underfunded in comparison to other site specific cancers. They needed to be told about people like my late mother who never smoked a day in her life amd yet was diagnosed with late stage inoperable lung cancer.
But what makes this day more significant for me? Of late, I have been questioning if anything I've done as a lung cancer advocate has made a difference and on this day, in Trenton, once again I was given an answer to this nagging question. The lady with the knitting looked at me and saw the brochure in my hand -she stared at the words LUNG Cancer. Her brother was just diagnosed with the disease. Our conversation became animated as I shared with her what I have learned - and believe you me I have learned more about this disease than I ever wanted to know. Speaking with this stranger I was reminded as to why I founded the Lung Cancer Circle of Hope. It's reaching out, if need be, to one person at a time - finding the links in the chain - reaching the tipping point that will lead us to the cure. And that's what this is all about

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