I often think about the ones I love. My husband and children, siblings and their children as well as my beautiful granddaughters. I wonder what this illness does to them, things that they are not going to tell me. We are taught in many ways as children not to talk about bad things, and the Big C is certainly a bad thing. I’m pretty much out there with my illness, if I see someone smoking I give them a “this is what happened to me” lecture. But I wonder if my honesty causes stress with those I care deeply for.
One person with whom I had a very honest conversation with passed away recently. She was an exceptional woman. I only was privileged enough to meet her once. She had the same disease as I did, only she was Stage IV, and had been placed in hospice that day. We talked about the worries we had about our husbands, would they mourn too much or would they find another person worthy to spend the remainders of their lives with. We bragged about our grandchildren, it is obvious that she cherished them. This exceptional woman will be greatly missed, she meant so much to so many. And with one short visit, she caught my heart.
I suspect that I have had some impact on the lives of others. I do not mean to brag, just state a fact. Just as my new friend showed strength during our visit, I have challenged myself to make an impact on someone’s life as often as possible.
This weekend I indulged in one of my favorite treats, you see I am completely addicted to Dunkin Donuts coffee. I begged my spouse to take me through the drive thru. I introduced my spouse to the young man at the drive thru window and the young man spoke to my husband, stating that I had given him a hard time about smoking and when he learned of my circumstance, he has dropped his useage by ⅓ of a pack of cigarettes so far. Can it be that my illness can have a positive impact? I can only hope. There are a few other people around town that I have been keeping an eye on and they’re still dealing with the addiction. Even my spouse still smokes, it concerns me, but he can only quit when he is ready to do so.
I have a friend who I met through this journey of mine, she is the head of a non-profit foundation that is dedicated to eradicating lung cancer from the state of Maine. Free ME From Lung Cancer raises funds in order to assist in research.
Debbie Violette, President of Free ME From Lung Cancer states “Lung cancer is a disease that often leaves the patient feeling guilty, isolated afraid and unable to speak about their disease because of the smoking stigma. But that has not stopped me. I have been speaking out about this disease since the day I was diagnosed almost 16 years ago. I know the feeling of guilt and shame. I worked through it so I could help those dealing with the disease. No one should every experience guilt and shame if they are diagnosed with lung cancer. Please don’t ask us if we smoked. It is no longer a smoker’s disease. I have made it my personal priority to see that lung cancer patients have the support that they need. That is why I founded Free ME from Lung Cancer. We deserve a cure, we deserve more funding for research and we deserve to be supported and loved. No one should have to go through this alone. Together we can change the lives of lung cancer patient’s one step at a time. I was 44 years old when I was diagnosed.” It is my hope to emulate Debbie and help bring Lung Cancer into the light, there are more cancer ribbons beyond the Pink Ribbon. In case you wondered Pearl or light grey is the color for lung cancer.
Even my spouse is involved in bringing cancer to light, when I was in Chicago he had a tattoo placed on his forearm, it is a knife with a cancer ribbon made up of several cancer ribbons, signifying slicing up cancer, bringing it to an end. He proudly shows it off and dedicates it to anyone who has to deal with cancer.
So Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a 600 pound Gorilla in the room; the name of it is Cancer. This horrible disease will attack more people than you can imagine. People who did nothing to deserve a death sentence; yet they fight against it every day.
One more candle has been snuffed out, someday it will be my candle, until that day I will stand up to my disease and laugh in it’s face, perhaps if I do someone will listen, someone who may make a change in their life and perhaps that change may save their life.