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! ūüôā

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.

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!

Share my dream!

Last night I had a dream

Enormous football arenas were overpacked with wildly cheering fans. The commentators were all familiar to me. Multiple cities across North America and around the world were showcasing similar events. Each was being telecast live, and I could see multiple large screens with views of the action around the world. Our view kept switching from location to location because there were so many action-packed venues. The energy in the arena was like nothing I’d ever experienced. The sound was deafening. The air electric. The crowds were cheering enthusiastically as lung cancer researchers made advances.

Lung cancer researchers? Yes, researching right on the field, and the commentators all were lung cancer advocates/activists/fundraisers, and I was one too, in my own arena. And we were doing the play-by-play, telling the crowds at home what was happening on the field. There were all kinds of half-time type shows, and great celebration and pageantry. Cheers would erupt as we would learn of advances in other stadiums. We were celebrating wildly!

And Chris Draft* would show up in one city after another, wild cheering breaking out whenever people saw him in their own city or on screen at a remote location. He would spend time with the commentators and with the crowds, and everyone would celebrate! He’d encourage everyone and the cheers would erupt and then he pop over to his next venue, and it would happen all over again.

Every arena, all around the world, enthusiastically cheering on lung cancer research! Advances being made in treatments and all manner of discoveries!

That is a dream worth having! An even better dream is for lung cancer to be cured!

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Chris Draft of the Draft Family Foundation: Inspiring Advocate!

* Chris Draft is a former NFL linebacker. This month, he and Keasha Rutledge Draft would have celebrated their seventh anniversary. She died of lung cancer. Chris tenaciously continues the legacy they both started. He is a tremendous lung cancer advocate, strategist and mentor. He is a hero to many of us in the lung cancer community. I am grateful to him for supporting and encouraging me, and teaching me so much! He has come to Ottawa several times, and phones regularly.

Chris started the Super Bowl Challenge, where lung cancer survivors compete to raise money for lung cancer research. Whoever raises the most gets a free trip to the Super Bowl. The second and third prizes are pretty good too!

I entered because I really want to go to the Super Bowl, but more than that, I want to raise money for lung cancer research. This is something I’m obviously passionate about!

I’ve met many wonderful people with lung cancer. Interesting, funny, generous, thoughtful, smart, caring people. People who are very much loved by their family, their friends. People who have made a tremendous difference in their communities and elsewhere in the world.

I love these people and I can’t tell you how much I want better outcomes for them, for us!

With 1 in 12 people getting it, you probably love someone with lung cancer too.

Please, help me raise money for lung cancer research! Would you give, and ask your friends and family to give as well?

Our family and friends are singing our lungs out for lung cancer research this month! We’re doing a song a day and posting them on YouTube. We call it “Love Songs for Lungs”, and we’re raising hope, awareness and funds for lung cancer research. We’re having a lot of fun doing it! If you haven’t seen us yet, check us out! And if you like what we’re doing, please “like” our songs and tell your friends, because that will help too!

Here’s the link to support lung cancer research, the good work of Chris Draft, and maybe even help me win a trip to the Super Bowl:

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

And if you haven’t seen our songs yet … please check them out! Today will be #19, a classic love song done in a new way with a friend I’ve known since elementary school.

Here’s my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe_-U2z2imwrQpKikpisxgQ/videos

Thank you.

Ottawa Lung Cancer Support Group Oct 2018 Cecilia Kim Jill Mariel Andrea Peggy Laurie Jan taken by Diane

Our beautiful Ottawa lung cancer group. (you may recognize Andrea (front left) from a “Love Songs for Lungs” video!)

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How Two Trips to the Basement Could Save Your Life

How could two trips to the basement possibly save your life or the life of people you love? Do yourself a favour and find out!

There is a lot we don’t know about lung cancer and its causes, but experts say radon is the leading environmental cause of lung cancer. If you live in a home with high levels of radon for a long time, that increases your likelihood of developing lung cancer.

Radon is a radioactive gas that naturally occurs in rock, soil and water. It can enter into buildings through cracks in the foundation and gaps around things like pipes and drains.

We can’t see, smell or taste radon, but there are ways to detect it. It only takes a couple of simple steps to protect ourselves.

First, purchase an inexpensive radon test. There are at least two kinds of radon tests: short-term and long-term. We have used both. We got ours at the local hardware store. They are readily available.

Next, take a trip down to the basement to start the test. The radon test will monitor for radon in your air while you go about your everyday life.

After the appropriate* amount of time, take that second trip to the basement to retrieve your test. We mailed ours into the lab (easy to do), and they sent our results soon after.**

It’s easy to do this test, and it could save your life and the life of those you love. Don’t delay.

Put “Radon Test” on your shopping list. Do it today!

* There are both short-term and long-term tests. I’ve heard you get more accurate results if you do the long-term (three months) one in the Winter (since we don’t open windows much at that time). ¬†It’s not too late to start one now.

** We do not have a problem with radon, and what a relief to know that!¬†If you have a problem with radon in your house, there are people who can fix it for you. It’s not expensive, especially when you consider the alternative…

More info here:

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/radon/testing-your-home-radon.html

http://www.lungcancercanada.ca/Lung-Cancer/Radon.aspx

https://www.lung.ca/lung-health/air-quality/indoor-air-quality/radon

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November Awareness

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. If you follow me on Facebook, you may have noticed I changed my profile and cover photos for November. Have you noticed any other indications of¬†Lung Cancer Awareness Month? I haven’t seen many.

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Did you know that Lung Cancer is by far the most common type of cancer, and by far the leading killer (of all cancers) in Canada?

Did you know that Lung Cancer kills more than 20,000 Canadians each year? Did you know Lung Cancer kills more people than Breast, Prostate and Colon Cancer combined?

I learned these sad facts through my involvement with Lung Cancer Canada.¬† lungcancercanada.ca¬†They’ve got a few events that I’m planning to be at this month, including the Lung Cancer Patient Summit in Toronto and the Lung Cancer Canada Evening of Hope in Ottawa.¬†I’ll be speaking at the Ottawa event. Busy month for me!

November can be a rough month, especially if one spends time reflecting on numbers like these.

Lung Cancer research is shockingly¬†under-funded, especially when compared with funding for other cancers which don’t take nearly as many people away from their family and friends. Lung Cancer accounts for 25% of all cancer deaths in Canada. Ugh.

I’m thankful that these numbers aren’t the whole¬†story!¬†I’m thankful for researchers and doctors¬†and¬†nurses and administrators and fundraisers and so many generous people who are working hard to change¬†these horrible stats!

I’m thankful that this clinical trial I’m on is making a huge difference for me and my family and friends. I hope this drug¬†will help¬†many more who follow.

I’m thankful for hope, and those to seek to inspire it for lung cancer patients.

Some members of my lung cancer community talk about “Outliving Lung Cancer”, ¬†“Shining a Light on Lung Cancer”, and “Hope Beyond Cure”.* ¬†I am thankful for them and for the hope that they help inspire in me and many others. Hope is good!

*  outlivinglungcancer.com   hopebeyondcure.com

I don’t know much about serving as¬†a patient advocate, and I¬†don’t know¬†if¬†this is my calling, but I’m hoping I’ll learn more, meet some great people, and be encouraged at these Lung Cancer Canada events this month. I’ll let you know how it goes!

This month I’ve been enjoying¬†lots of walks, aiming to gradually increase my fitness. Let me show you¬†some of the beauty I’ve been privileged to see¬†… even in November! ūüôā ¬†Thank you for journeying with me: it’s good to have companions!

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