Three More Reasons to Hold onto Hope

In a challenging season, there are opportunities to be seized. When life is hard, there is still good going on. Here are three more reasons to hold onto hope…

3) Canadian Cancer Society/Canadian Institutes of Health Research Cancer Survivorship Team Grants

Last summer Jennifer Wilson, director of research operations for the Canadian Cancer Society, asked me to serve with some awesome review panelists to help decide which survivorship team research projects would receive funding. The $10 million competition, CCS/CIHR Cancer Survivorship Team Grants, had the goal of improving health outcomes for cancer survivors. We anticipated that at least four teams would be funded, but then just before the announcement could be made, COVID-19 struck.

Everything changed.

Prior to COVID-19, this $10M competition would have been the largest investment in cancer survivorship research ever made in Canada at one time.

The recipients were announced this month. During the delay brought on by COVID-19, additional partner funds were secured from the Alberta Cancer Foundation and McMaster University, which enabled SIX grants!!

Jennifer Wilson and team worked hard during a global pandemic to make the largest investment in cancer survivorship research even larger! Way to go team! Here is the announcement

2) Great news! The US FDA approved SEVEN new lung cancer treatments in May 2020 (during COVID-19)!!

Tabrecta – Capmatinib (METex14)

Retevmo – Selpercatinib (RET)

Opdivo – Nivolumab + Yervoy – Ipilimumab

Tecentriq – Atezolizumab (first line)

Alunbrig – Brigatinib (ALK)

Opdivo – Nivolumab + Yervoy – Ipilimumab + chemo

Ramucirumab – Cyramza + erlotinib – Tarceva (EGFRex19 or ex21)

WOW! WOW!! WOW!!!

What tremendous achievement from multiple teams! Time to celebrate!! #ResearchMatters

1) What a feeling!

This is insignificant in comparison, but I am also thankful because I have feeling in my hands this evening.

Neuropathy (nerve damage / dysfunction) is a common side effect from some cancer treatments. My hands have been generally numb or in significant pain (usually burning, stabbing or electrical) for the past six and a half years of survivorship. I try to keep perspective, since these are side effects of drugs that are keeping me alive.

Tonight I was making biscuits, and as I rubbed my hands together to remove bits of dough, I realised that I could feel the palms of my hands. They felt almost normal, and they still do, a few hours later. Happiness and gratitude! So thankful to be alive six and a half years after diagnosis!! My kids were 6, 10 & 12 at diagnosis, and now they are 13, 17 & 19. That means so much! I’m so glad I get to be here with them. So very grateful!

The costs of survivorship are real. New and improved treatment options mean that (in general) people are living longer and better post diagnosis. Survival rates vary significantly, but about two thirds of people will live at least five years after a cancer diagnosis. This means that over one million Canadians are now living with cancer, and that number is expected to rise dramatically in the next twenty years. (Canadian Cancer Society statistics)

Research matters, to improve both quantity and quality of life.

Research brings hope.

Hold onto hope.

11 Pipers Piping

12 Days of Giving to Lung Cancer Clinical Trials

The pipers are lung cancer fundraisers. Cheers to all who fundraise for lung cancer. Cheers and thank you!

Cheers to all fundraisers in the Super Bowl Challenge! Here are the current Top 5: Team Angie Downs & Fred Hutch Lung Cancer Research Center / Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; Lisa Moran & Lung Cancer Colorado Fund; “Team Hope,” (Christie Malnati, Sandy Shea and Kathy Weber) & International Lung Cancer (ILC) Foundation; Gina Hollenbeck & Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation Memphis; Dy Wakefield & The American Lung Association Charleston SC. Great causes! I urge you to give! I especially want you to support Team Jill, but above all, give to lung cancer, please! Everyone who fundraises is a winner because we are all raising funds for a good cause.

Team Jill is currently in 6th place, but that can change in a hurry! We are coming up to the deadline and it’s not too late to give!

Last year we placed 4th and the top 3 fundraisers were winners. Many of you told me you were watching the donations, ready to give more if it would bump us into top 3, but you didn’t give because your amount wasn’t quite enough.

Please don’t wait for someone else. Please step up now! It takes a #team to tackle lung cancer. We need everyone!

If all of us gave what we could, it might bump us into top 3. Whether or not it does, it would be money given to a good cause. So please give what you can, whether it’s $10, $100, $1000, $10,000 or more. Lung cancer research extends lives!

A clinical trial partly funded by The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation extended my life back in 2015. If not for that clinical trial, my kids probably would have lost their Mom at ages 14, 12 & 8. We are grateful beyond words to everyone who donated to make that clinical trial happen.

We fundraise so that other young kids won’t lose their Mom so young.

We fundraise because research extends lives of even the worst cancer killer by far (lung cancer). Every dollar you give makes a difference.

Every dollar helps. Please give what you can.

It’s not too late to give to lung cancer clinical trials. Please step up and give, #team!

Team Jill:  https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/2020-lung-cancer-survivors-super-bowl-challenge/jillhamer-wilson

OR: Team Jill’s Canadian page (for Canadian Income Tax receipts): http://donate.ottawacancer.ca/goto/jill 

#12Days of giving to #lungcancer #clinicaltrials #Hope #Care #Team #Support #SilverLinings #Stories #Awareness #Early Detection #Treatment #Research #Survivorship #TeamDraft #ChrisDraft #Please #Give #ThankYou #lcsm

#Anyone can get lung cancer. Please give to life-extending clinical trials today. Thank you.

9 & 10 Ladies dancing & Lords a-leaping

12 Days of Giving to Lung Cancer Clinical Trials

Cheers to the clinical trials teams, oncologists, surgeons, clerks, cleaners, administrators, managers, volunteers, leaders, and everyone who is glue to hold it together and/or oil to keep things running smoothly. #Team matters so much! The work you do matters and we see you leaping and dancing and rushing around to do it well.

Clinical trial protocols are complicated and they can change, updates occur, and so many important details to track. Machinery must be working properly, instruments calibrated, supplies stocked, and so much more behind-the-scenes that we patients don’t notice. Thank you!

The work you do matters and our lives depend on you. Thank you #team!

We may not say it much, but we are grateful for you and the good work you do. Thank you! Extra thank you’s to those of you who are working during important family times this holiday season. Cheers to you!

An extra big thank you to all of you who put in extra work as our Ottawa Hospital made the EPIC switch to electronic records. May 2020 be better!

Extra thank you’s to Dr. Paul Wheatley-Price, Medical Oncologist who goes the extra mile, gets glowing reviews from patients, is President of Lung Cancer Canada, and ran the marathon in May for people affected by lung cancer. Every movement needs strong leadership. Thank you for generously giving your self and your leadership skills to lung cancer.

It’s not too late to give to lung cancer clinical trials. Please give in honour of our #team!

Team Jill:  https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/2020-lung-cancer-survivors-super-bowl-challenge/jillhamer-wilson

OR: Team Jill’s Canadian page (for Canadian Income Tax receipts): http://donate.ottawacancer.ca/goto/jill 

#12Days of giving to #lungcancer #clinicaltrials #Hope #Care #Team #Support #SilverLinings #Stories #Awareness #Early Detection #Treatment #Research #Survivorship #ThankYou #lcsm

1 Partridge in a Pear Tree

12 Days of Giving to Lung Cancer Clinical Trials

Clinical trials mean life for people with lung cancer. They not only make a difference for people in the future. Clinical trials extend lives right now. Clinical trials matter!

Hope Matters. We all need hope, especially in hard times. Everyone goes through them, and in the midst of the darkness, hope is an act of defiance.

In Spring 2015, my health was bad. After a year and a half of first chemo then targeted therapy, I was weak and concerned that there might not be any more treatment options for me. My kids were 8, 11 and 14.

We were incredibly thankful for the clinical trial that my oncologist told me about. It brought hope, and I eagerly signed up. I wrote about it at the time, and here in An Act of Defiance, where I told the story of asking my family to plant an apple tree for me for my birthday in the Spring of 2015. The pear tree immediately brought to mind this story of hope.

Apple trees take years to bear fruit. Would I live to see it? Only one way to find out! Fast forward to 2019: we have harvested loads of apples and are very thankful I’m alive to enjoy them. Choose hope!

Hope is an act of defiance! When times are tough we can run low on hope. Hope matters. We need to nurture the hope within us, and when running low on hope, ask for help! #HopeMatters

That clinical trial kept me alive for over a year and a half, long enough for new and better treatment options to become available. I’m on my second treatment line since that clinical trial. I’m alive (and so very thankful) today because of grace and that clinical trial.

Research works. It is working to help give more and more people longer and better survivorship! Lung cancer research matters because people matter.

Four and a half years later I am filled with gratitude for that clinical trial and all who funded it, giving me the gift of extra years of life, such important years that I’ve cherished with my family and friends. My kids are now 12, 16 and 18. We’re incredibly grateful for these years.

Four and a half years later I know from the depth of my being that research matters. Four and a half years later I keep shouting from the rooftops: RESEARCH MATTERS!

I’m raising funds this month, posting these 12 days of giving to lung cancer clinical trials. Please give generously: your gift could mean years of life for someone like me, and what a difference that makes for so many!

To celebrate SiX years of lung cancer survivorship, please give generously to lung cancer research!

Team Jill:  https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/2020-lung-cancer-survivors-super-bowl-challenge/jillhamer-wilson

OR: Team Jill’s Canadian page (for Canadian Income Tax receipts): http://donate.ottawacancer.ca/goto/jill

#12Days of giving to #lungcancer #clinicaltrials #HopeMatters #appletree #peartree #HopeisanActofDefiance #ChooseHope #Hope

SiX Years!

To celebrate SiX years of lung cancer survivorship, we are fundraising for lung cancer research! This is such an important cause because anyone can get lung cancer, even active moms of young children.

Join Team Jill to celebrate survivorship!

Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer by far, yet in Canada it gets less than 0.1% of all cancer donations from individuals and businesses.

Join Team Jill to celebrate survivorship and change that statistic!

This year, Team Jill is entering the 2020 Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge, raising funds for lung cancer research. Please join in and celebrate survivorship by supporting Team Jill!

Support Team Jill by:

  • making a generous donation
  • asking friends and family to donate
  • inviting Jill to speak at your workplace, community group or living room gathering
  • asking your colleagues to donate to lung cancer research
  • holding a bake sale or other fundraiser
  • sharing on social media
  • brainstorming ideas and acting on one or more
  • talking with Jill about your ideas, and working on them together

Team Jill’s page:  https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/2020-lung-cancer-survivors-super-bowl-challenge/jillhamer-wilson

Team Jill’s page for Canadian income tax receipts: http://donate.ottawacancer.ca/goto/jill

Support Team Jill now, because this special window is only open until December 29! We are entering the Super Bowl Challenge to raise funds for lung cancer research. This unique fundraiser gives lung cancer survivor-advocates the opportunity to compete against each other to raise funds for lung cancer awareness and cutting edge research. The top three fundraisers earn trips to Florida for the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, and Taste of the NFL, but the real winner is the people (who may not have been diagnosed yet) who will benefit from the research.

People affected by lung cancer live with a sense of urgency! Lung cancer doesn’t wait. Join Team Jill now!

“This is a fight we can win, but it takes at team to tackle cancer, and we need your help,” says Chris Draft (of Team Draft & the Super Bowl Challenge).  Will you choose to stand up for your community?

Ottawa has a strong history of people standing up publicly to fundraise for lung cancer (many of whom are pictured above), but this is rare across Canada. I know of some and would love to hear of other efforts across Canada!

Stand up and support lung cancer research by supporting Team Jill now!

Thank you!

#ResearchMatters

Team Jill has chosen the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation as beneficiary for this year’s Super Bowl Challenge. 90% of funds raised will go to lung cancer clinical trials through the ORCF, provided we raise a minimum of $5000. USD.

The Super Bowl Challenge is a great opportunity to raise lung cancer funds and also potentially earn the experience of a lifetime, and speak about the importance of lung cancer on one gigantic international platform. Thank you, Team Draft and the NFL for this tremendous opportunity! Team Draft is an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation dedicated to increasing lung cancer awareness and research funding; more information below. 

Team Draft’s Press Release:

For Immediate Release

December 3, 2019

Contact:  Randall Hawkins, rhawkins@chrisdraft.org

Team Draft Marks Giving Tuesday With A Call To Support Sixth Annual Lung Cancer Survivors’ Super Bowl Challenge

 (ATLANTA, GA) – Today is Giving Tuesday—a day designed to unleash the power of people to change their communities by supporting the organizations they care about.  On this Giving Tuesday, Team Draft is challenging people to help change the face of lung cancer by supporting its 6th Annual Lung Cancer Survivors’ Super Bowl Challenge.  This one-of-kind fund raising challenge gives lung cancer “survivor-advocates” the opportunity to compete to against each other to raise funds for critical public awareness of this often misunderstood disease and for cutting-edge research that is giving new hope to those battling it.  The top three fundraisers, announced on December 30, 2019, will earn trips to the Super Bowl in Miami, the Pro Bowl in Orlando, and the 29th Taste Of The NFL, an exclusive food and wine festival held in Miami the night before the big game where guests will savor dishes prepared by some of the top chefs in the country while rubbing shoulders with legendary players from all 32 NFL teams.

Team Draft was founded by former NFL linebacker and internationally-recognized health advocate Chris Draft and his late wife Keasha on November 27, 2011—their wedding day.  At the time, Keasha, a never-smoker, was battling Stage IV Lung Cancer after being diagnosed with the disease in December 2010.  Despite the diagnosis and knowing the long odds they faced, Chris and Keasha decided to fight back, and standing side-by-side, they launched Team Draft at their wedding.  Keasha died one month later.  

Since its founding, Team Draft has been dedicated to using its unique platform to raise lung cancer awareness and research funding through its Campaign To Change The Face Of Lung Cancer.  And the centerpiece of that Campaign is Team Draft’s annual Lung Cancer Survivors’ Super Bowl Challenge.  As Draft explains, “the Super Bowl Challenge gives us a unique opportunity to use the overwhelming media coverage surrounding the Super Bowl to raise lung cancer awareness on an international level.”

Team Draft’s efforts are paying off.  “The Challenge achieves some amazing things in terms of public awareness and changing perceptions about lung cancer,” says Dr. Ross Camidge, Director of Thoracic Oncology at Colorado University Cancer Center.

By giving survivor-advocates like Gina Hollenbeck, one of last year’s Challenge winners, a world-wide platform to share their stories, Team Draft is weaving a broader narrative about the true nature of lung cancer and the hope that now exists for survivors.  As Gina put it last year, “I am super excited about this opportunity to go to the Super Bowl with my husband, but I am even more excited to give lung cancer a voice”—a sentiment echoed by Jeff Meckstorth, another past winner.  “In many ways,” says Jeff, the Super Bowl Challenge is “a once and a lifetime opportunity to thank our community, fight for all lung cancer families, but most importantly to educate the public about the reality of lung cancer.”

In addition to raising critical public awareness, the Super Bowl Challenge also raises funds for lung cancer organizations and treatment centers across North America.  And because Team Draft’s National Campaign has always been about “we” and not “me,” just as Keasha intended, participating survivor-advocates who raise more than $5,000 during the Super Bowl Challenge may commit 90% of the funds they raise to a lung cancer organization or cancer center of their choice with the remaining 10% going to support Team Draft and its mission.  Of this aspect of the Super Bowl Challenge, Dr. Camidge says, “you need somebody working on the national level.  You need somebody working on the local level.  Everybody wins.”  

As Draft points out, “anybody can get lung cancer.”  “The disease doesn’t care where you live, but your zip code often determines the quality of care you receive,” he explains.  “In football, we understand the importance of the home field advantage.  By allowing survivors to direct where funds go, we’re giving people the opportunity to fight for better cancer treatment in their communities—to give themselves and their neighbors the home field advantage,” he says.  

But for the competing survivor-advocates, the Super Bowl Challenge is so much more than a fundraiser.  “Team Draft has really helped boost our family’s spirits during this challenging time,” says Dr. Lucy Kalanithi.  In 2015, Lucy and her husband, Dr. Paul Kalanithi, won Team Draft’s inaugural Super Bowl Challenge and were able to join Team Draft in Phoenix for Super Bowl 49.  Paul went on to write the bestselling memoir When Breath Becomes Air—a powerful and moving chronical of his life and lung cancer journey—before passing away at the age of 37.

While Team Draft hopes to have survivor-advocates from all 32 NFL cities participate in the Super Bowl Challenge, the ultimate goal is for all NCI designated cancer centers and lung cancer organizations—regardless of location—to identify and support a survivor-advocate in the Challenge every year.  “We know the key to winning this fight is for everybody in the lung cancer community to support one another,” says Draft, adding that “the only way a community or an organization loses is if nobody stands up.” 

On this #GivingTuesday, Team Draft is challenge everybody to make the choice to fight for their communities by joining the Campaign To Change The Face Of Lung Cancer by donating to the Chris Draft Family Foundation at www.chrisdraftfamilyfoundation.org or supporting a participating survivor-advocate in the Super Bowl Challenge at https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/2020-lung-cancer-survivors-super-bowl-challenge.  

“This is a fight we can win, but it takes at team to tackle cancer, and we need your help,” Draft says.  Will you choose to stand up for your community?

About Team Draft

Team Draft is an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation dedicated to increasing lung cancer awareness and research funding.  To learn more or to donate, visit www.teamdraft.org.

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Why I work hard as a lung cancer advocate:

Six years and seven weeks ago, like many other parents of young children in the schoolyard that year, I had a cold with a cough which persisted.

Six years ago I was constantly coughing, and beginning to realize that the inhaler the doctor prescribed wasn’t working. I coughed so much I had to step down from the choir I had been rehearsing with to sing Messiah. 

Six years ago we had started to suspect something was terribly wrong. I could hardly speak a sentence without coughing. When faced with a flight of stairs, I wondered if I could climb them. 

We knew something was wrong, but had no idea it could be lung cancer. I started undergoing a myriad of tests, and when we finally got my diagnosis that December, it seemed impossible. When I learned I had advanced lung cancer I had no hope.

I did not know what to expect, but I never expected this: that six years later I am living life!

I had no idea I would still be alive six years later, never imagined I could be this alive and vibrant.

I never dreamed I would live this long. 

Shortly after my diagnosis I read the research on Crizotinib, the first new targeted therapy pill my oncologist mentioned. I rejoiced that so many of the people on Crizotinib were still alive six months later. Six months seemed like such a long time, such a lot of opportunity to live, such a great gift for someone with lung cancer…  and here I am, six years later.

Six years: chemo, Crizotinib, Clinical Trial: Ceritinib, Alectinib, Lorlatinib. Cutting edge new research keeping me alive these years. Every time the cancer outsmarted a med, a new treatment has been available – typically just in the nick of time – so very grateful! Research is giving me so many days to celebrate, gifts of countless moments, memories, milestones.

My children were 6, 10 and 12 when I was diagnosed. They have had a Mom right with them as they’ve grown these six years. My daughter is now 12, my sons 16 and 18. My oldest started University this Fall (Electrical Engineering and Physics, still living at home!). I’m still in the picture. I still get to talk with them, cook for them, hug them, encourage them, love them.

“Grateful” is only the beginning of how immensely thankful I am to be alive and living so well six years later. I thank God for lung cancer research and the difference it makes. 

#ResearchMatters 

#LungCancerStrong

So many great stories to tell, pictures to share, and blog posts yet to write! I’m feeling fantastic on my current med. I’m enjoying riding my bike. I’ve travelled three of the past five week-ends (all lung cancer related). I have loads of energy and I’m so very grateful.

#ResearchMatters #Hope #Grateful

On Saturday May 25, a fantastic group of lung cancer survivors, patients and friends are walking the 2K. It’s Ottawa Race Week-end, and we are joining in the celebration! “Lung Cancer Team Canada” is walking on behalf of all Canadians affected by lung cancer. We know that not everyone can walk, and we are walking to celebrate the fact that we can and to represent all who can’t.

If you can, we’d love for you join us! If you want to donate, we welcome that too. We are raising funds for Lung Cancer Canada, Canada’s only charitable organization devoted solely to Lung Cancer.

What I want most is for you to know that more research means more survivors and better survivorship! Please join in and celebrate the difference that lung cancer research makes. Cheer loudly for us, because we are lung cancer survivors, and we are strong!

We are also very grateful for our caring and hard-working #lungcancer team at The Ottawa Hospital. Dr. Paul Wheatley-Price, one of our terrific lung oncologists, is running the marathon for all Canadians affected by lung cancer on Sunday morning. Please join our group of lung cancer patients and survivors in watching for him and cheering loudly for him!!

Dr. Paul Wheatley-Price is pictured here with a select group of powerful, brilliant and beautiful advocates at a 2018 event on Parliament Hill.

On May 25, “Lung Cancer Team Canada” is walking 2K for all Canadians affected by lung cancer. We are #LungCancerStrong and we hope you will join us! Please walk with us, donate, and cheer for us! We welcome your support!!

Join us or donate by clicking here at this link!

We’re getting tee shirts! If you want one, please let me know straight away! They are purple with a green butterfly and white ribbon, and they say #LungCancerStrong in bold white letters.