by Katie Brown
As a caregiver I felt a great sense of helplessness watching my dad fight lung cancer and then pass away from the disease. His diagnosis and death 11 months and 21 days later changed the course of my life and set me on a mission to a calling I never knew existed before.
Not everyone is in the position to be their loved one’s full-time caregiver or advocate. Not everyone can leave a paying job to start an online lung cancer support network. Not everyone would be able to volunteer for almost 8 years advocating, lobbying and supporting patients and families affected by the disease.
BUT, there are several other ways to honor and remember a loved one.
Recently LUNGevity announced their Tribute, Memorial and Honor Program. http://events.lungevity.org/site/TR/Events/General?pg=tgreeting&fr_id=1030 This allows numerous individuals to donate over time to a research fund established in honor or memory of an individual, family, or event.
You can attend a lung cancer walk, fundraiser or event. There are so many ways at these events to honor and remember your loved one. You can design personal t-shirts, wear a sign or pin, bring a momento to the event that makes you feel like your loved one is with you.
You can wear a lung cancer awareness wristband or lapel pin and even put a ribbon magnet on your car.
All of these are ways that you can remember your loved one while raising awareness.
There have been several ways I’ve tried to honor and memorialize my dad over the years.
I named a star after him. I had a tribute fund in his name. There is an award given at the event, Playing for a Cure, named after my dad. I had a plaque and flag made at the National Cemetary to be put on display.
In June of 2006 I was awarded the strike out cancer hall of fame award. I stuck a coin in my pocket that had belonged to my dad. I also wore a pin with his picture on it. It felt like he was there at the award ceremony with us.
In Nov. during lung cancer awareness month, I attended our LUNGevity walks with pins and wristbands and photos of both my parents.
All of these small gestures makes me feel my parents presence around me. Often when people I don’t know see the pins, wristbands and other momentos, they’ll ask questions.
This gives me the perfect opportunity to talk about lung cancer, raise awareness about the disease and talk about my parents!
Tribute and Memorial funds are sustaining and an ongoing way to honor your loved one.
In addition, I feel like the more I talk about lung cancer and my parents -the more I honor and remember them!