This Saturday night, November 13, 2010, is LUNGevity’s 10th annual Fall Benefit at the Field Museum in Chicago. Wow! Ten years of fighting lung cancer is not an easy feat. Fighting for lung cancer is an uphill battle and sometimes I feel like we’ll never make it to the top. But, I remind myself that in order to get there, we have to make some significant strides along the way, and we have.
Ten years ago lung cancer was the invisible disease. Today there are several organizations fighting for lung cancer education, advocacy and research dollars; Scientists have identified several cancer cell mutations and they have developed drugs targeted to treat those specific mutations; Researchers believe there is a familial link to lung cancer, most likely having to do with genetic mutation and today, I have survived lung cancer because of early detection.
I’m not a big fan of the music my kids listen to, but when I hear the song, “The Climb,” by Miley Cyrus, I think about the uphill battle we are fighting for lung cancer. I also think about LUNGevity and how it’s been my support during the climb. All of the lyrics are great and can apply to just about any goal you are trying to reach, but it’s the chorus and part of one verse that really resonates with me. It goes as follows:
The struggles I’m facing,
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes they knock me down but
No I’m not breaking.
There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin on the other side
It’s the climb.
It is about the climb. LUNGevity was the first organization dedicated exclusively to funding lung cancer research. There is both a lot of excitement and a lot of pressure that comes with filling a badly needed niche. Through the years there have been growing pains and many challenges, but those are the crossroads that have defined the organization that we are today. And for me personally, the climb helped me reconcile with losing so many people I loved from lung cancer. It also helped me because my involvement with LUNGevity armed me with the weapons (knowledge, friendships and relationships with doctors and nurses) I needed to face my own lung cancer diagnosis with courage and not fear.
I’ve been so focused on getting to the top and reaching my goal of curing lung cancer that I overlooked all that I have gained in the process (the climb). I have made lifelong friends who understand a part of me that no one else does. Some of us have been working together since the beginning and because of the experience we share we will always have a special bond. The time and energy that we gave to nurture and grow LUNGevity was difficult and exhausting, and we didn’t always agree, but we listened, trusted and always respected each other. We laughed a lot and there were times we cried together, but we always fought hard so we wouldn’t have to see another person we cared about receive a lung cancer diagnosis. When the unthinkable happened and I was diagnosed, together we went through the emotions of realizing we were also fighting for our own lives.
So, on Saturday night we will celebrate all that we have accomplished the past 10 years and then we’ll keep climbing until we reach the top!