Reflection for the journey

Our church publishes daily reflections written by members of our congregation each day of Lent. This year I was given the honour of writing the Easter Sunday one, which I share with you below. We are resurrection people with much reason to rejoice and celebrate! I hope you are experiencing deep joy today and every day.

Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of the Lord   Jill Hamer-Wilson

Isaiah 65:17–25; Psalm 118:1–2, 14–24; 1 Corinthians 15:19–26; John 20:1–18

I faced a terrible diagnosis in 2013. Lung cancer research means better treatments, and I grow healthier with each one. By the grace of God I am alive and thankful, and doing what I can to improve outcomes for people affected by lung cancer. I love people affected by lung cancer. If you know someone affected by lung cancer, please connect with me.

Isaiah paints a beautiful promise. God is creating new heavens and new earth, where there will be no more weeping. One who dies at 100 will be considered a youth! Everyone will live in houses and eat the fruit from their vineyards: no one, nothing will prevent God’s people from enjoying the work of our hands. God loves us and is making good for us.

Do you ever wonder if God hears you when you pray? Do you wonder if he hears when you cry out in the night? God says of his beloved children, before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.

Do you hear that? God is always listening, always ready and willing to answer when we pray. Listen to God, have faith, choose hope!

Hear the Psalmist speak praise and lift your voice to join in.

The LORD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. / I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. /This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.

There is hope beyond this life. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. Through Jesus, the dead experience resurrection. Hope against hope, Mary saw the risen Jesus and was honoured to share the good news. 

We can see God’s good work every day. Lord, open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, our heart to receive your love and to love

They are beautiful and delicious! If you want one, you’d better pop in for a visit soon!

#ResearchMatters

Five years ago I was feeble and fragile, just finished my fifth round of chemotherapy, having coughed for months before diagnosis, still coughing because although chemo helped, it didn’t really help that much. Facebook just reminded me of that time with a photo of some of the many gorgeous flowers that beautiful people sent to us to encourage us, because we all need encouragement, especially when we are travelling rough places in our road.

I could hardly talk, couldn’t do much more than lie on the couch looking at beautiful flowers. I pushed myself hard, not wanting to give up one millimetre to lung cancer, but even so, those were difficult days. Some of my friends are going through hard times like this now. Those were hard days, because no matter how tough I was or how hard I pushed, lung cancer kept pushing harder, and chemo sure wasn’t doing the job.

Thankfully lung cancer research made a difference for me. I’ve been on a series of targeted therapy drugs for almost five years now, and they have been -not without side effects- better than chemotherapy.

I’m alive and well, and now I’m still fighting! I’m not fighting for my life at the moment, but I’m fighting for others, including those who have not yet been diagnosed.

I’m thankful that I’m not fighting alone. Here are a few of my terrific teammates gathered in Atlanta for the AACR Annual Conference:

Lung cancer research has been neglected, and I can’t understand why. New treatments are game changers, so let’s keep going and make a great life and death difference for more people! Let’s find new targeted therapies to work for more of the lung cancer patients. Let’s turn more patients into survivors!

Lung Cancer needs a little more love, and a lot more research money. More research money means more survivors. Look at me! I’m alive and I’m living life! I’m celebrating life every day because every day is a gift to be celebrated!

A bunch of us -lung cancer patients and others- are walking the Ottawa Race Week-end 2K this May 25. Come join us! We’re going to have a great time! We’re getting tee shirts! We’re just getting started! Stay tuned for more details, and sign up to join our team please! We are “Lung Cancer Team Canada”, and we’re raising $$ for Lung Cancer Canada. Here’s the link.

People matter. People with lung cancer matter. Lung Cancer #ResearchMatters . Tell everybody!

#ChooseHope

#Shift

This past week has been one of the best of my life! It has been enormously transformational: I will never be the same. What an honour to represent Canada, to represent lung cancer, and to help spread a little bit of the tremendous amount of hope which is available.

I come home a new person with a deeper calling. I have an even bigger love for people affected by lung cancer, a stronger passion to make things better, and an unbendable will to work hard toward that goal.

It was an honour and responsibility to represent Canada and to represent lung cancer patients at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting. I worked hard to make you all proud.

Twenty-three thousand people dedicated to fighting cancer gathered in Atlanta, and I wish I could have met them all! Thank you MP Catherine McKenna and your team for the Canada flag pins! I gave out almost 100 Canadian flag pins, and well over 100 business cards, telling our lung cancer story every time. I was honoured by these cancer fighters, and met brilliant leaders in the field, people who cared and listened. They are dedicated to improving outcomes for cancer patients, and research makes a difference! More research means more survivors. I thanked them for their work, and felt honoured when they thanked me for mine.

On my way to share my advocacy story at my poster session

I have many stories to tell, many photo’s to post, and more video posts to come on YouTube. I have been honoured to bring hope to people affected by lung cancer and other cancers, living in Canada and around the world. It brings me tremendous joy to serve as a channel of hope for the lung cancer community. #ChooseHope! … and keep your eyes open for more

I’m so grateful for all I’ve been privileged to experience this past week. It was an honour to represent, and I will keep working hard for people affected by lung cancer.

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!