In the Bleak Midwinter

First of all, dear friends, let me remind you that January is radon month, so if you haven’t checked your home for radon, please do it this week-end! Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Please protect yourself and your loved ones by getting a test kit this week-end and using it! You can read more in my previous blog post: How Two Trips to the Basement Could Save Your Life. Thus ends my radon public service announcement! 🙂

You’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to lately, besides hanging out with my boys and walking the dog. The answer is LOTS!

The Ottawa support group is going well: 13 out at our January meeting. We have an awareness day planned at the General next Thursday. Drop by the Cancer Centre and say hello if you’re around!

Our December Ottawa support group party, with a delicious and generously catered meal from Chances R Restaurant

I’m working at collecting and connecting lung cancer patients across the country, so if you know of any, please send them in my direction! Today I was talking with dear folks in Winnipeg. Yesterday it was Calgary. It can be pretty lonely here in Canada, without other lung cancer friends around! That’s why I’m working to find and connect lung cancer patients in various geographic regions across this large land. I hope we will have patient support groups, awareness days and summits across the country!

There aren’t enough hours in the day! I love serving as a catalyst, a creative problem solver! I’m energized by this work, and eager to meet people, gather them together, and help build lung cancer communities.

I joined the Canadian Cancer Trials Group as (volunteer) patient representative, Lung Site, in November. The CCTG develops and conducts clinical trials, and includes all major cancer centres and many community hospitals across the country. This will afford me the opportunity to meet people doing lung cancer research across the country, and that should help with my community building work! As patient representative, I have opportunities to give input into the clinical trial process at many points along the way. Steep learning curve and big responsibility! It’s important that I get to know a wide variety of lung cancer patients so that I can fulfill my obligation to represent us all. I hope to listen and learn a lot in the coming months and hopefully years. I hope to live long enough to fulfill my three year term commitment. Perhaps another clinical trial will help extend my life once again!

I’ve also applied to the Scientist-Survivor program at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting this Spring in Atlanta. What a wonderful opportunity to meet researchers, advocates, oncologists and learn many things about research into all kinds of cancer, then pass my learning along to many others! I should hear any day if I’ve been accepted, and I am eagerly hoping!

Christmas Day 2018

But it’s not all lung cancer around here. Sadly, Jono’s Mum is extremely unwell. Jono and our youngest rushed off to Australia right after Christmas to be with her and the rest of Jono’s family. We wished we all could have gone. They shared many joyous times together in the midst of such sorrow, and have just returned home. We’d be grateful if you could spare a prayer or warm thought for the family as it seems the end is drawing near.

In Between Bounces

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Two large cups of Oral Contrast which I drank between 2:30 and 4:15pm, the day of the scan

I had another routine CT scan last week, followed by a few days of fairly typical post-scan fatigue. “You don’t bounce back quickly from these scans,” observed my hubby. We’ve often said this about my energy levels in recent years, but this time these words evoked an image which captured my imagination: a ball hitting a wall in super slow motion. What a perfect picture of how my energy level gets flattened, then takes so much longer to be back to “the new normal”.

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I can relate to that tennis ball, flattened on impact, then regaining its shape ever so slowly! (tennis ball video)

I don’t bounce back like I used to! There are many variations on the, “You don’t _____________ like you used to,” theme. Choose your favourite word or phrase to fill in the blank! I could write a whole series of blog posts about the ways we could fill in the blank, and the ways I grieve and miss my pre-cancer life. It would be easy to get caught up in this way of thinking instead of being grateful for what I can do and what I do have.

Rather than focussing on what I can’t do, I’d much rather focus on what I can do.

My intention is to invest time and energy into my priorities, like family and friends, being involved in church, leading Bible study well, and -lately- caring for lung cancer patients and helping to raise lung cancer awareness and funds for research.

It takes me a long time to bounce back, but in between bounces I’m trying to find my particular niche in the lung cancer landscape. I want to strategically help make a difference for lung cancer patients, improve outcomes and help us hold onto hope.

Lung Cancer is the deadliest cancer. Although it receives only a small amount of money for research, that investment is leveraged into a large impact for some lung cancer patients. Imagine the difference more funding could make!

If you’d like to work with us to explore ways to help lung cancer patients, please message me. It takes a whole team!

Saying Yes to New Adventures!

I did something new and exciting … and a little scary!

You can read more of the story below, but right now I just can’t wait to tell you my exciting news!

For Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I made a short video called, “What can Jelly Beans Teach us about Lung Cancer? You might be Surprised!”

I’m proud of this little video! It’s my first attempt and it’s rather rough, but it’s real and from the heart, and I’m honoured to share it with you!

This whole adventure started back in October when I chose to have a week of saying yes! I decided I would stretch beyond my comfort zone and do things that frightened me!

The next day, the phone rang and I was asked to speak at a fundraiser for Lung Cancer Canada. I said a fairly quick yes, and then started thinking about it!

The more I thought about it, the more nervous I got!

The fundraiser would be in a restaurant, but there wasn’t going to be a microphone, or even a section of the evening when I would give a speech. Giving a speech like that makes me nervous, but I’m getting used to that kind of nervous.

No, this time I was expected to initiate conversations with a bunch of strangers and somehow find a “natural” way to tell them things about lung cancer. That is scary for me!

I couldn’t imagine how to make this happen. I mean, I could easily picture far too many awkward ways of doing it, but there had to be a better way! What would help me feel more comfortable starting up conversations? How could I teach a bunch of strangers about grim lung cancer statistics at a restaurant?

So I came up with an idea! I got a few items together and worked out a little interactive spiel, and then I went to the fundraiser.

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I did not expect it to turn out so well! The woman organizing the fundraiser was so lovely, and the family and friends who had shown up to support her were kind and encouraging. Most of them wanted to hear what I had to say, and quite a few were very keen. I gave out some of the Lung Cancer Hope Rocks too! #LCRocks

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What was so powerful for me, though, was to watch the looks in their eyes as the penny dropped. Wow! These simple jelly beans were helping the message get through! When those moments kept occurring throughout the evening, I had a growing conviction that I needed to find a way to get this important message out to more people.

So that’s why I said yes to another scary idea and made the video!

Obviously, the video isn’t an interactive dialogue like all my jelly bean conversations have been, but because this is such an important message, I’ve chosen this media to communicate more broadly than I could do in small groups or individual conversations.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month! Please honour me by setting aside ten minutes: seven minutes to watch the video and three minutes (or more!) to consider what your response will be.

There are many people who played various roles in helping, supporting and encouraging me along this whole jelly bean journey. Thank you! I am especially grateful for the technical support and encouragement of Jith Paul of Treepot Media. Thank you, Jith, for your partnership in the making of this video. I literally could not have done it without you!

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