by Anne Gallagher
I recently returned from LUNGevity’s 3rd annual Hope Summit. It was a truly powerful experience and I find it difficult to express how much this event means to me.
I spent a few days in Washington DC afterwards and visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Imprinted on the side of his statue is the saying, “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” I feel like this sums up Hope Summit however I might call it a boulder instead of a stone.
All of the attendees who go to Hope Summit have been through so much and there is a depth of experience in that room that is felt very deeply. I attended the HOPE Summit for the fist time last year and that was my first opportunity to sit and talk to survivors like myself. This year it felt like reconnecting with family and meeting some new family members. This year’s event left me with the courage and hope to face another year.
HOPE Summit was an emotional weekend that leaves me filled with a fire to continue fearlessly. I really wish that the rest of the world could look into this room and see that there are lung cancer survivors who are not only surviving but they are thriving. It is a room of inspiration and most importantly hope.
As a patient navigator I always encourage patients to find a support community and I would highly recommend this event to any of them. I know that many of the patients I see would greatly benefit from this event. Hearing the stories of the others in the room and seeing so many advanced stage patients who are years out from diagnosis is truly remarkable. Not only does this event provide a support community but it provides patients with practical knowledge. There are speakers who talk about pulmonary rehab and breathing techniques, nutrition, exercise, advocacy, communication, surviving with disease, research, and managing side effects. It arms patients with tools to go home and be able to manage their disease and lives better.
There was a welcome reception on Friday evening and within moments the room was abuzz with conversation. People from all of the country sharing their unique experiences which are also so similar. Everyone has their own story to tell but many of the experiences are the same and most importantly the feeling is the same. Everyone in that room understands how scary it is to hear that you have lung cancer and there is an instant connection between survivors and caregivers alike. The staff of Lungevity is around and it is easy to tell that their hearts and minds are in the right place. They are focused on survivors, hope, and research. It was a weekend of hugs, support, strength, education and hope. It was difficult to say goodbye but when I did and I said to so many, “See you next year”, I was able to mean it.
This event gives me the hope to believe that that will happen!
For more information on LUNGevity’s HOPE Summit, please visit www.LUNGevity.org/hopesummit