Monday, April 11, 2011

Joining Team LUNGevity

When my mom called me that one spring afternoon in 2007 to tell me they discovered a mass in her lung and it might be cancer, I didn't want to believe what she had just said.  You might say I was in denial.  No, not my mom, it can't be my mom!  She never smoked a cigarette in her life!  Yet I couldn't push away the memory of my Aunt (my mom's sister) who fought a courageous battle with lung cancer 7 years ago and passed away within 8 months.  I didn't want to believe that my mom would have a similar fate.  No, not my mom.  I was ready to put up a good fight.

Once her diagnosis was confirmed - Stage 4 Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) - I was online 24/7 scouring the web for information on what it is we are fighting, what is THE BEST treatment out there for her, who can help.

I was overwhelmed by information, but mostly I wanted (craved) to hear success stories from people who fought lung cancer and survived.  I didn't want to hear all the bad stuff.  I wanted to know what works, what doesn't, what kinds of food can my mom eat/tolerate, and where we can get the best treatment for her.

Among the many supportive and informative online forums I found was the LUNGevity Online Support Community.  I must have read every single post on there.  All of a sudden, I didn't feel alone.  The forum became one of my go-to places for everything - for information, validation, and comfort.  I never did participate in any of the discussions, but I forwarded every post I found interesting and helpful to my dad and my mom. 

The doctors gave my mom 6 months, but she proved them wrong and lived 20 months.  She received the best treatment available to her.  She fought hard, endured the pain, but never once complained or asked why.  When she passed away, I never felt the same. Life changed.  She was my best friend.  I still miss her. So much.....

My mom and me back in 2006
The year I became a runner and ran the Race for Breath 5K for lung cancer in November 2009, I ran my heart out for my mom.  I also kept thinking about the families who are dealing with this horrible disease, and I finished that race knowing that I want to help.  I want to help others with lung cancer get a better survival rate.  I want to help to honor my mom.

I started looking for charity organizations that I can help raise money for.  There are charities for general cancer research and charities for lung cancer research specifically.  If I could, I would help all cancer charities, but I chose just one organization to pour all my heart into.  I kept going back to the astounding statistics of lung cancer:  it is the #1 cancer killer in the U.S., yet it is the LEAST-FUNDED cancer research program in the U.S.; there is no early detection for lung cancer unlike colon, breast, and prostate cancer - cancers with early detection;  only 15% of lung cancer patients survive 5 years post-diagnosis; it kills more people than breast, colon, brain, & prostate cancers COMBINED (statistics from LUNGevity Foundation and Lung Cancer Alliance).

I chose to join and run for Team LUNGevity in memory of my mom. Team LUNGevity is a group of passionate runners and triathletes who run marathons, triathlons, half marathons, and any race distance while raising money for lung cancer research.  I chose Team LUNGevity because I was drawn to LUNGevity Foundation's mission of  increasing the survival rates of lung cancer patients by funding lung cancer research on early detection and treatment.  That mission stood out for me.  If lung cancer could have been detected early for my mom, perhaps she would still be alive today.  I want to make that (early detection of lung cancer) a reality to someone, and I want those who are fighting lung cancer now to have the best treatment possible.  Lung cancer does not discriminate - it doesn't matter if a person used to smoke, smoked, or never smoked; a person's ethnic background does not matter.  It is a cancer that no one deserves.  It is a deadly cancer that needs to be detected early just like the other cancers. 

Please help me fight lung cancer and help me raise money to fund early detection research for lung cancer by supporting me as I train to run 3 races in memory of my mom and others touched by lung cancer, and in honor of those who are fighting lung cancer now:

The Dempsey Challenge 10K race on October 8, 2011
Race for Breath 5K (for lung cancer) on November 5, 2011
Richmond Half Marathon (my first half marathon!) on November 12, 2011

Please see below how you can help.  My training and fundraising efforts will culminate in my first half marathon this November.
  • Donate just $13.10- on my DONATION PAGE to honor someone you know touched by lung cancer.  I will wear their names on race day to honor their courage and their fight.
  • Sponsor a mile for either 1 or all 3 races I am running by donating $131- per mile on my DONATION PAGE.  Dedicate that mile to someone.
  • Or simply donate as little as $1- on my DONATION PAGE.  Every little bit helps.
Thank you so much for reading this far and for supporting me! 

Much love,

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