I don’t have words to tell you how hard a lung cancer diagnosis is, but I will tell you this: the friends we make through lung cancer are silver linings. I’ve met some amazing people and count that an honour and privilege!

We rejoice and celebrate when someone gets good news and we weep together when the news is bad. (Today is one of those hard days: a dear lung cancer friend is in a tough place right now.) About half of all lung cancer patients are diagnosed at stage 4, and many of us get scans every 3 months or less. That’s a lot of emotion at regular intervals!

But it’s not just the lung cancer patients who are silver linings. I’ve connected more deeply with a variety of people, including friends who have drawn closer in support, people affected by other kinds of cancers, caregivers, and all kinds of people who are helping and working towards a cure.

This is going to be a big week-end for me, cheering for some of my silver linings!

Sunday is “The Ride” fundraiser for the Ottawa Hospital, and I plan to go cheer for the cyclists who are riding to raise funds for cancer research, especially for Anna, the “Superhero” researcher who is riding for lung cancer research. She has surpassed her fundraising goal, thanks to generous donors who I’m also cheering for! Thank you! Let me know if you can come join me for some cheering at Tunney’s Pasture around noon this Sunday. I’d love to connect with you there.

Tonight is Stand Up to Cancer’s big show, 8:00pm on just about every TV channel, live from LA. At the LUNGevity Hope Summit in DC in April, we met many amazing people, including Sung Poblete, the President and CEO of Stand Up to Cancer. She listened intently and spoke passionately about collaboration and accelerated research, and what’s not to love about SU2C’s mission to turn every cancer patient into a cancer survivor! No wonder they’ve done so well at bringing celebrities on board! Tonight a show full of celebrities will be Standing Up to Cancer and urging people to give generously to cancer research. All money given in Canada will stay in Canada. I love that Stand Up to Cancer and all those celebrities will be cheering us on tonight. I’m looking forward to watching the show and celebrating the support!

But you know what else I’ll be cheering about? Many of my lung cancer community friends will be sitting in the audience, watching the show live in person!! SU2C was extravagantly generous, offering free tickets at the LUNGevity Hope Summit! I could have gone too, but this year I’ll be hanging out with my family, watching the show from my living room. (I hope you will too!) I’m pretty sure I won’t recognize all the celebrities on stage, but I’m going to be looking out for my lung cancer friends, and you can believe I’ll be cheering loudly whenever I catch a glimpse of any of them!!

Research is making a difference. (There’s still a long way to go.) Research is already starting to improve outcomes for lung cancer patients. Look at me! I’m here because of the grace of God and because of lung cancer research. That’s something to cheer about!

Jill Stand Up 2 Cancer pic

Screen Shot 2018-09-07 at 12.00.20 PM

What’s on TV tonight!

Tennis Anyone?

I was always very active. I loved moving and played a wide variety of sports. Tennis is one sport I didn’t learn until I was in my 40’s. I took a beginner course at our neighbourhood club, where they taught with the latest methods: smaller courts and slower tennis balls. I was amazed that by the end of the course I was able to return the ball in bounds fairly consistently.

Tennis was fun and good exercise. I enjoyed playing regularly, often with our former neighbour Cynthia, and my skills continued to improve. Until lung cancer.

I was determined to play again, but I really haven’t been up for it. The combination of reduced health along with nerve damage (from chemo) to my feet make it challenging to stay upright. Last week, on holidays with good friends, we all went out to play a bit of doubles tennis. I can’t say I played well, but my family and friends were gentle with me! I had a great time and did much better than I thought I would.

What do you wish you had learned at a younger age? What do you feel like you can’t do anymore? Maybe it’s not too late. Why not give it a try?

Here are a few action shots my husband took last week:

Jill tennis 2018

Jill tennis 2018 cottage

Jill tennis doubles 2018

Jill tennis postplay 2018

My cancer meds make my skin very sun-sensitive!


The Ride

What are you doing Sunday September 9? My friend Anna is going the distance, riding her bicycle 117km to raise money for lung cancer research! It’s not too late to help!

I’m incredibly honoured that Anna is doing this big ride for me, my family, and the lung cancer community! Check out my story and picture here on Anna’s fundraising page. When you support Anna, you’re encouraging me and making a difference for the whole lung cancer community.

Helping cancer patients is nothing new for Anna. She works hard all week long as a cancer researcher at The Ottawa Hospital, aka “superhero” (see my post here). But working full-time against cancer isn’t enough for Anna. That’s why she’s taken to her bike.

She’s done The Ride before, and she’s a strong cyclist. If I were a betting person, I’d put money on her being the first female finisher. But her real strength is in wanting to make a difference for people like me. I can’t tell you how much it means that Anna O’Brien is doing The Ride -a fundraiser for The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre- for me, my family and all the lung cancer community.

Lung cancer is by far the deadliest kind of cancer, yet receives little research funding. We’re hoping to change that! One in twelve Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and we yearn for better outcomes!

Here’s the difference clinical trials made for our family, from the story I wrote for Anna’s donation page. Thank you, Anna!

Seventeen months after diagnosis, I had run out of treatment options and it looked like cancer was getting the upper hand. Telling our three young kids about my diagnosis was the hardest conversation I’d ever had. I didn’t want to have to tell them any worse news.

A clinical trial at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre rescued me and changed our family’s story! That research extended my life two years: long enough for another cancer breakthrough to be ready when I needed it!

Four and a half years after diagnosis, I’m still on treatment, still going strong and so very thankful!

I was healthy and fit back in 2013 when we were blindsided by lung cancer. I had no idea that a non-smoker without asbestos or radon exposure could get lung cancer. I didn’t know…

Lung Cancer is by far the deadliest of cancers, killing more Canadians than the next three deadliest cancers combined. Research extends lives!

Only 17% of lung cancer patients are still alive five years after diagnosis. With the help of The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre and generous people like you, I hope to make it to five and beyond!

Cancer Research makes a difference. Thank you for supporting the Cancer Research team at The Ottawa Hospital!

If you’d like to help, please support Anna here: Anna’s fundraising page. Thank you!

Anna O'Brien

Anna loves her work!