Ottawa to Atlanta

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be heading from Ottawa to Atlanta on Friday for the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting. This is a huge conference, with 20,000-30,000 of the top cancer researchers in the world, plus many clinicians and so many others … including me! I’m participating in their “Scientist <–> Survivor Program”, which groups cancer survivor advocates with mentors, both in advocacy and also science. That’s right: we get connected with an expert in cancer advocacy, and also a scientist mentor to help us make the most of this amazing conference! There are so many sessions, but no one can go to them all. I’ve been trying to plan which to attend, and I’m facing scheduling conflicts. So many great options!

I’m thankful they have a conference app to help us figure it all out, because this event is packed with possibilities! If you are curious about what’s happening and who will be presenting, you can browse the sessions and check out abstracts from the comfort of your own home. Here’s a link to investigate the sessions and presentations. Here’s the link to my abstract. And this is the link to donate to the great work that the AACR does, through supporting my 5K walk on Saturday morning.

The app also has maps to help us find places. No getting lost at AACR Annual Meeting 2019! It will even show the path to walk from where one is to where a particular session is taking place. (In case you were wondering, it would take about 15 days to walk from where I am now to the Georgia World Congress Center, home to this preeminent cancer research showcase. I’ll stick to my plan to fly!)

Yes, I am quite excited about this privilege to participate in the AACR Scientist <–> Survivor Program. I feel very honoured that I get to be at the Annual Meeting, and I know I’m representing Canada as well as lung cancer patients, survivors and advocates. I will endeavour to make the most of this opportunity, and I expect I will spend time with exceptional people and learn a lot while I’m there.

I wish I could take all of you with me! Since we can’t all go, I’m going to try to do the next best thing. Here is one of the ways I’m going to step out of my comfort zone while I’m in Atlanta: I’m planning to post videos on YouTube of my time there.

Here’s a link to my first one! I hope you’ll follow my adventure in Atlanta on YouTube!

Choose HOPE! Inspire courage. Incite hope. Foment communities of hope.

#AACR19 #AACRSSP19

AACR Poster

I’m so excited! I worked hard on my poster which I am incredibly honoured to be presenting alongside other advocates and scientists at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in Atlanta Georgia on the afternoon of Sunday March 31st, from 1:00 – 5:00 (!), and the print shop has emailed me to say it’s ready to be picked up! I’m very excited, a little nervous, and I really hope it turns out the way I want it to look! 🙂

Have I mentioned lately that HOPE is an act of defiance? Choose HOPE!

Sharing Hope

An encouraging email from a dear friend this morning reminded me that if you don’t follow me on facebook, you may not know how grateful I am for your generous flow of donations which filled my LUNGevity Summit Survivor Challenge account all the way to the top and even a little bit over! I am excited to be going to LUNGevity Foundation’s International Lung Cancer Survivorship Conference in Washington, DC, April 26-28!! THANK YOU!!!

I am grateful to be blessed in so many ways, and one of the biggest gifts is my community, my circle of friends who hold me with such love. Thank you for being part of that community. I have no words for how grateful I am for you.

Yesterday my husband bumped into a teacher from back in our eldest’s elementary school days. She told him she follows this blog and prays for me every night. When he told me, I got a little teary with gratitude. I can’t tell you how many times people have said they read this blog and think of me and/or pray for me regularly. Thank you! You are making a difference!

You help me have hope! Thank you!

As my dear friend said in her email, I have opportunity to share amazing hope… here in Ottawa, in Atlanta the end of this month, at the LUNGevity conference in April, and who knows where else! Thank you for the ways you help me open up the doors!

This kind of care

I’m heading to Atlanta for the special Scientist <–> Survivor program at the preeminent cancer research conference (AACR Annual Meeting) in two weeks, and I am excited! I want to make the most of this opportunity, so I’m preparing! One of the articles I read, recently published by the National Cancer Institute (US), was about lung cancer treatment disparities in The United States. Here’s what I learned:

Black patients who are diagnosed with early stage lung cancer are less likely to be treated than white patients (in the US). A study tried to address some of the reasons, and ended up significantly increasing treatment rates for black patients and also white ones.

Outside of the study, only 69% of black people and 78% of white people completed treatment (that could potentially cure them of lung cancer). In contrast, during the study, a remarkable 96.5% of the black people and 95% of the white people completed treatment. What a significant improvement!

Do you know how they did it?

  • They paid attention to whether or not people were getting treated.
  • They communicated.
  • They hired nurse navigators to engage with people and break down barriers.

This kind of care – just a little more care – made an enormous difference! We need this kind of care for every lung cancer patient in every cancer centre!

I wonder how the care compares in Canada…

You can read the article here!

This is Hope!

LUNGevity’s summits have made a huge difference for me. I’ve deeply connected with my lung cancer family, my silver linings. I’ve learned about new research, and my hope has grown tremendously.

Being at this conference has been incredibly inspiring, and I would love to go again this year. I want to be there to represent Canada, and be a supportive presence for all who are there. I also want to get a booster shot of hope and bring back news of exciting research and great stories to share with Canadians (and others) affected by lung cancer. I know I’d come back a better advocate.

If I can raise $1500 or more in donations, LUNGevity will cover my travel expenses, including airfare and hotel accommodations.

Many of you were so generous for the Super Bowl Challenge, and I’m thankful! I wouldn’t want anyone to feel pressure, but if you’re able to help me get to this year’s summit, I’d be grateful.

Here’s the link:Jill’s LUNGevity Summit Fundraising Page

Deadline is March 15!

LUNGevity earned a 4-star rating (the highest rating) from Charity Navigator again this year. You can read more about that here.

Two of my Ottawa lung cancer sisters are coming to the summit this year, maybe more! Others are coming from elsewhere in Canada. It would be strategic, and so good to spend time with them!

LUNGevity’s summits have been getting growing numbers of people affected by lung cancer from around the world, so this year it’s “The International Lung Cancer Survivorship Conference”. I’m going to represent Canada and I look forward to spending time there with some of the Canadian lung cancer advocates that I try to encourage regularly.

Click here for Jill’s LUNGevity Summit Fundraising Page

Proceeds from this fundraiser will benefit LUNGevity Foundation, the leading private provider of research funding for lung cancer. LUNGevity Foundation is firmly committed to making an immediate impact on increasing quality of life and survivorship of people with lung cancer by accelerating research into early detection and more effective treatments, as well as providing community, support, and education for all those affected by the disease.

Not even a migraine…

No, not even a migraine could stop me, last December, from submitting my application to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting Scientist – Survivor Program, which takes place March 30 – April 3, 2019, in Atlanta Georgia! #AACR19 #AACRSSP19

This program intentionally connects scientists with cancer survivors during this big, exciting international cancer research meeting. It may be difficult for some of you to understand why I would be so terribly keen to go, but trust me! I really, really wanted to go and be part of this amazing opportunity to connect with people, learn things and tell my community about them!

The AACR’s website says their Annual Meeting’s program, “covers the latest discoveries across the spectrum of cancer research … and highlights the work of the best minds in research and medicine from institutions all over the world.”

I’d been trying to work on my application, as the days raced towards the December deadline. Busy days, Lung Cancer Awareness Month activities, end-of-year extra’s, concerts, wrapping up details from the November “Living with Lung Cancer: Ottawa’s 1st Patient-Driven Mini Summit”, kids’ activities, special Christmas events, family travel, etc.

Suddenly I was down to the wire with thoughts swirling in my head, so fast I couldn’t write them down. I had answered most of the questions, only a couple left plus the BIG ONE: an abstract for a scientific type of poster that I would actually make and present if I was accepted into the program. (No pressure!)

What made it worse was that my hands weren’t working well. Nerve pain is a side effect of the new drug I’m on. Writing or typing can be very painful.

A dear friend helped by sitting at a coffee shop with me the evening of the deadline, jotting down my words on paper, helping me to compile my myriad of lung cancer ideas and thoughts into one clear concise “sort-of-scientific-sounding” abstract. When it was time to go home I still didn’t have it, and my headache was growing worse. I started to feel terribly sick …

I’m not going to tell you how physically awful I felt that night as I struggled at the computer to get the words together and inputted to the computer so I could submit my application. But I did it!

And here it is, all official, at this link, or you can read it below.

I am so happy to say that I am incredibly honoured to have been accepted into the program! A lot of people didn’t make it. Only 40 of us did.

As I go to this amazing conference, I’m representing those who weren’t accepted and those who didn’t apply. That’s a big responsibility, and I intend to share the things I will learn with as many people as I can.

You’ll be hearing more in days to come, but for now, I’ve got to go work on that poster! 😀

ADV06 / 6 – Informed, inspired, empowered: The new era of lung cancer patients/survivors in Ottawa, Canada

 March 31, 2019, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM Section 29

Presenter/Authors

Jill Hamer-Wilson. Independent Advocate, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Abstract

This poster will discuss many aspects of Living with Lung Cancer. Jill Hamer Wilson’s mission is to raise up a team of lung cancer advocates whose voice cannot be denied and who will influence for change. Caring until there is a Cure through more research will equal more survivors. Initiatives include monthly support meetings for lung cancer patients, regular online support and communication, monthly outreach tables in the cancer centres, annual lung cancer patient summits, regular encouragement, inspiration and spreading of hope which goes beyond ourselves, beyond lung cancer, which breaks down walls that divide us. Constituencies include local lung cancer patients, and focus locally, but also reach to all affected by any kind of cancer, anywhere in the world. Ottawa’s 1st Patient-Driven Mini Summit took place on November 27, 2018. It provided a terrific stimulus to provoke discussion and networking with peers and leaders of interest. The psoter will also explore the experiences of lung cancer patients at the Ottawa Hospita; the journey from scarcity to abundance and the under resourcing to forming a community of hope and providing of resources for others. Examples of collaboration, such as speaking on panels about bench to bedside research and care, clinical trials, and fundraisers will be outlined along with learning and growth opportunities for lung cancer patients/advocates.

AACR Annual Meeting 
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The difference lung cancer research makes

Right in this moment, today friends, I have to tell you that I am overflowing with joy and a sense of wonder and well-being. Maybe that sounds a little crazy to you because of the lung cancer, but it’s true.

I am grateful beyond words for so much good in my life. The best is that I am loved, by God, by so many people, including my sweet daughter who makes me little “I love you” notes all the time. She is filled with love and joy, and I cherish her. I am so thankful to be here with her and with you all.

We were made to love and be loved. Love gives us a reason to live. I’m thankful to be alive so I can love, be loved, and make a difference for others.

And I am alive, more than five years after my diagnosis, I am alive! In fact, I feel better than I did a year ago. I keep feeling better and better. I can breathe well, most of the time. I can move my body in ways I haven’t since this whole thing began. Cancer, chemo and meds weakened me, zapped my energy, and made my body stiff and sore. But I’m regaining muscle strength and flexibility, which is such a good gift. For the past five years, I’ve pushed through the pain, telling myself, “Use it or lose it!” I know what it means to push through pain, being a former national athlete and a mom who delivered two of my babies without pain relief. (Did I mention the second one weighed almost 11 pounds?)

I’m feeling better, more able to move, in much less pain, with much more energy, and I am rejoicing! What a difference lung cancer research makes!

This new lung cancer med is doing more than keeping me alive. It’s helping me to live! I give thanks for lung cancer research! Let’s have more of it!