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.

How did it go?

“How did it go?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question the past few days!

I travelled to Toronto last week to meet with MPPs at Queen’s Park, to share my story with the hope that …

Four of us are lung cancer patients/survivors

… and that’s the real issue. What was I hoping for? Well, you know how I feel about funding lung cancer research. Lung cancer causes 27% of cancer deaths in Canada but research only gets 7 cents for each cancer dollar. That’s not fair! I hope for lung cancer research to be fair!

Last week, though, we weren’t asking for research dollars.

On Wednesday morning, Canadian Cancer Survivors Network and Lung Cancer Canada hosted a #Right2Survive Breakfast, with quite a good turnout. Thank you to all of you who contacted your Ontario MPP. Many good conversations were had, and several people spoke from the podium. I took pictures whenever I remembered to, and a professional photographer was present. One of the MPPs told me her people were always telling her to take more pictures and tweet more. I finally had time to tweet during the train trip home! (I’m @JillHW – please follow me if you’re not already!)

I think my cards were an effective way to get across the main point from my story – that lung cancer research makes a real difference for families like ours (and is worth funding) – very powerfully and quickly. Access to innovative new treatments has extended my life! Everyone I gave my card to looked at it, and I think the message hit home.

MPP Robin Martin

I listened as MPPs shared personal stories of losing loved ones to lung cancer. Some of the people in the room were clearly already committed to the cause. Others seemed very interested and open to further conversations and deeper commitments. I was grateful for everyone’s presence there and spoke with as many as I was able. Many good conversations were happening around the room!

One speaker noted that lung cancer kills over 20,000 Canadians every year, the size of a small city every year!

Our three main messages for the day were: screening programs (save lives, time and money), lung cancer patients deserve timely and affordable access to innovative treatments, and patient voices must be heard!

After breakfast, several of us observed Question Period in the Legislature. What an interesting experience! (My first time.) For those who may not know, our provincial government has recently introduced a new plan for families with an autistic child or children. They claim it will help more families, but it works out to less funding per family. Families have been protesting, and that day quite a large number were in the gallery. One after another, members of the opposition introduced families and described their situation and how the funding changes would negatively affect them. It was very sad, very hard to listen to, but it reinforced to me the importance of telling our stories. Clearly the Opposition together had determined this was the best strategy to sway the Government, and I can tell you that it was powerful.

Fellow advocates and CCSN

After Question Period, quite a few meetings were scheduled with MPPs. I wasn’t very nervous about meeting with MPP John Fraser, because I had sat beside him at the pre-election town hall meeting at which I spoke last Spring, and he was very encouraging. This time he expressed interest in our messages and appreciation that I had traveled all the way to meet him there in his Toronto office rather than in Ottawa. He honoured me by listening intently and saying how important my story is. My fellow advocates had many similar experiences in their meetings.

MPP John Fraser and LCC’s Christina Sit

So, how did it go? To be honest, I’m not sure. I plan to ask the organizers what they think, once they’ve had time to process it. They’re the experts. I’m just a voice of lung cancer, telling my story, representing countless others, and trying to do that well.

I hope that it makes a difference – even the smallest difference. That’s what I hope for.

Grace

Heartbreak, Hymns and Hope

Thank you for your prayers and kind words. My husband Jono’s dear Mum, with family by her side, slipped away to Jesus earlier this week. We are grateful to God for comfort and love, and for the care, prayers and kind words of many people. Here are Jono’s words from his fb post last Sunday:

My lovely mum Margaret said goodbye to this world today (Monday morning in Australia). Her passing was peaceful, and pain-free as far as we can tell: my dad Jim holding her as they lay together; he and my sister Angela singing hymns to her; and I was kind of there, as Jill had recorded some hymns I was playing at church this morning and sent the audio files, which she listened to as she was slipping away. Deeply grateful for a life well-lived: for the love that’s surrounded me from before I was born; for kindness, nurture and example that set me on the path of life. Thanks everyone for your many thoughts and prayers; they have sustained and blessed us beyond what I can express. (Photo is from about 2 weeks ago – so glad we had that time to spend with her.)

We are heartbroken, but we have hope. We are people of faith, and we believe in the resurrection. We’ve seen hints of it, even in the planting of seeds in our garden in spring.

#hope #ConspiracyofHope

Super Fun!

Well, that was the most excitement I’ve had in a long time! I can’t believe I almost won (i.e. almost came top three) the Super Bowl Challenge! Thanks to you, for a while there I was even in SECOND PLACE!!!! I’m getting excited again, just thinking about it!

Thank you for your tremendous support, encouragement, and generous donations! Together we raised a lot of money for lung cancer research and lung cancer survivor support. Together we raised a lot of excitement and encouragement for this lung cancer survivor too! Thank you!

One of the ways you increased my joy was by inviting your friends and family to participate as well. You told people my story, you widened the circle, you grew the team, and that was terrific! It takes a real team effort to compete in the Super Bowl Challenge! Thank you to all of you who are Team Jill, all year long. I can’t thank you enough!

Screen shot taken from https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/2019superbowlchallenge

These top three will do a fantastic job representing all of us lung cancer survivors: Patty at Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta GA, Jeff & Rhonda at 2019 NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando, FL, and Gina at Taste of the NFL in Atlanta GA. They will have opportunities to share their stories with key influencers, and they will have a LOT of fun!

Grand total raised so far is: $32,594 USD, and Patty is holding another big event on January 19th. This is something to celebrate! I’m still hoping to make it to Atlanta, maybe even before Summer – watch this space!

Lung Cancer Advocate (and former NFL player) Chris Draft visiting our family

Chris Draft works with tremendous energy and tenacity to encourage and support the lung cancer community. Team Draft is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer, focusing on Awareness, Early Detection, Treatment, Research and Survivorship. Chris genuinely cares about people, thinks strategically and acts to make a significant difference. Plus, he knows football and enjoys taking people affected by lung cancer out to games, Survivor at Every Stadium.

www.TeamDraft.org – that’s Chris at the upper right

Thank you!! I had a lot of fun participating in the Super Bowl Challenge this year! That was one exciting ride! Thank you for your generosity.

A Dog’s Life is Filled with Hope!

I’ve never been much of a dog person, but my daughter sure is. She loves dogs. She’s on her fourth “Dog Calendar” now – you know, the kind where there’s a new picture for each day of the year, and for my daughter, each doggie picture is cuter than the one before.

A little over a year ago, our family decided to adopt a rescue dog. We went in thinking we knew what we wanted (medium size, preferably black or mostly black). We chose Colo, even though he wasn’t exactly what we’d planned for (he’s white and the size of a small house horse). It’s hard to explain how it happened, but we love this dog, and we brought him home.

Somehow this dog keeps digging his way deeper and deeper into my heart. I’ve learned to scratch his ears in just the right places, and I’ve come to understand that this dog is filled with hope.

When I reach for my shoes, he’s hoping for a walk. When he hears a crinkly sound, he’s hoping for a treat.

Tonight I was making chocolate chip cookies, and the dog plonked himself down on the floor at my feet, looking at me with those gorgeous brown eyes, expectantly, waiting, looking up, hoping, anticipating, at the ready, just in case some small bit of batter might happen to fly out of the bowl.

Which (he should know by now) was not likely! And even if some small bit of chocolate chip batter did dare take the plunge toward the eager dog lying in wait below … how could he imagine that I would not, with my lightening-fast ninja-like reflexes, intercept it long before he had even the remotest chance? This dog lives in hope!

He knows that I am not some clumsy cook who would carelessly cast off delectable delights, especially not ones containing compounds dangerous to dogs. Yet he hopes!

Why shouldn’t he hope? Why shouldn’t we? After all, here I am alive and baking cookies five years after a terrible diagnosis. Why shouldn’t we live a life filled with hope?

Especially when the baker is holding out a spoon, filled with good cookie batter, just waiting for you! Hope!

Advice for Christmas

Several weeks ago I was invited to contribute tips for Christmas to a big lung cancer organization’s blog. I thought I’d also post some here in case any of you might find them helpful. They’re not just for people newly diagnosed with lung cancer. 🙂

I was diagnosed on December 12, 2013. I received my second chemo on December 24th. I felt like a deer in the headlights that Christmas. There were so many emotions and pressures. My kids were 6, 10 & 12. I knew it could be my last Christmas. Thankfully, I’m still here five years later.

None of us know how long we’ve got. Cherish every moment! Say the things you know you should say. Seek reconciliation, ask for forgiveness, tell them you love them. Take lots of pictures. Laugh and be silly. Live life while you can. Seize the day!

Some practical tips:

Change your expectations. Cut down your to do list. Say no to some of the events. Schedule in rest times. Actually block out times on your calendar for you to rest! 

Conserve your limited energy for what matters most to you. Let other people do everything else. If anyone offers to do something for you, say yes, even if it’s uncomfortable. Invest your time with the people who are most important to you, and limit time with those who zap your energy.

Practice self care. Bring nutritious food to a potluck and eat it! Taste that decadent treat that looks so delicious! (but if it doesn’t taste as good as it looks, stop after the first bite!) Get fresh air and exercise every opportunity you can.

Savour the moments. Seek out beauty and kindness. Look for things to be thankful for, and give thanks!

Ask for help. 

… and for those of us who are Christians, remember what Christmas is about, that God loves the world enough to give us all this precious gift of Jesus. Focus on that and the rest will fall into place!

Merry Christmas!

(Photo’s from previous years … I haven’t taken any yet this year!)

The Inappropriate Ask

Celebrating 5 years since my lung cancer diagnosis

Truth is, no one really knows how hard it’s been, these last five years. I don’t like to talk about the hard times. That’s part of my coping strategy. I focus on what’s good, what’s beautiful, what’s true.

When I was first diagnosed, I woke up several times in the night. Chemotherapy or cancer side effects, and perhaps the stress of it all. I would look out the window and note the position of the moon and stars in the sky. Knowing they were still there, still moving as they had been prior to diagnosis, somehow helped, and I would go back to bed, back to sleep.

My faith in God has made a huge difference. I am grateful for the love God has shown me, and given me for other people. Any good you see in me is due to the difference Jesus makes in my life. I don’t talk about my faith much publicly, but I’m always happy to. Ask me about Jesus anytime!

It took a whole huge group of people to help keep me alive five years past diagnosis. I don’t know who they all are: researchers, doctors, scientists, statisticians, fundraisers, donors, nurses, administrators, number crunchers, cleaners, clerks, managers … I don’t even know all the categories of people to list, but I wish I could thank every one of them.

Getting me to five years has definitely been a group effort! During the hard times, even the smallest kindness or encouragement can make a big difference. Even a kind word or a greeting called out across the street! Many of you may not know what a significant difference you’ve made for me. Thank you.

While I was writing my blog yesterday evening, a group of amazing friends came carolling and gift-bearing to our door, in honour of my five year “cancer-versary”. This five year journey has been one of unexpected kindnesses, unexpected grace. I could never write them all down.

So many of you have made a difference for me, for my family these past five years. I am hurting my brain trying to come up with a framework which would help me to include and express all the many kindnesses we have received, tremendously moving and generous gifts which have helped us make it through the terribly difficult times over the past five years.

I simply can’t do it. I can’t list all the people. I can’t even categorize the types of gifts you’ve given us. Not even with the broadest of brush strokes or the vaguest of generalities. There is no way this human can find to thank all you wonderful people in one single blog post. 

I can say that each of you, even with the smallest of kindnesses, each of you who have helped us travel through this valley, have made a significant difference. You, perhaps, may have no idea. Thank you.

Thank you for showing love to this person affected by lung cancer. Thank you for showing love and kindness to my husband and children, also affected by lung cancer.

Not everyone has people like you.

Thank you for making a difference in our lives.

Lung cancer friends at Evening of Hope Lung Cancer Fundraising Gala November 2018

Could I ask just one more thing?

Help me win the Super Bowl Challenge! Whoever raises the most money for lung cancer research gets to go, and it’s not just about watching the game. If I win, I will tell my story to influential people who are in a position to help make a difference for people affected by lung cancer. Plus watch the Super Bowl … in Atlanta … in the Winter!

I would LOVE to win! Please help me!

Please click this link and help me win


https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/jill-hw-love-songs-for-lungs

… Was that inappropriate?

Here are just a few special moments of lung cancer work over the past couple of years…

Please click this link and help me win!


https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/jill-hw-love-songs-for-lungs

(Was that inappropriate?)  Thank you!