Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Work Goes On


It has been quite a busy few weeks. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting for the Livestrong Young Adult Alliance. NCCF was one of the founding organizations, and Dan always looked forward to these meetings. I think he just liked flirting with all the girls ;) This year was my first year going "on my own", and I was so happy to see friends that I've made over the past year. And the meetings are an incredible opportunity to learn and debate issues facing the young adult cancer community. Granted, I am always aware that even though I've seen a lot of cancer, I really have no idea about certain things because I've never had cancer. So I listen a lot ;)

November is also lung cancer awareness month. Although lung cancer isn't among the most prevalent types of cancer among young adults, there are a lot of parallels between the two communities. Both are somewhat ignored by researchers and funders. Both are incredibly isolated and orphaned. Some days I feel painfully aware of how far we have to go on both issues.

This past Sunday a group got together to attend a walk on the National Mall to support Lungevity, an organization focused on raising research funds for lung cancer. The walk was organized by Jerry Sorkin who is a stage IV lung cancer survivor still living with the disease every day. I met Jerry back in May when both of us when to the Hill to drum up support for lung cancer legislation. Jerry decided he wanted to do something during lung cancer awareness month. But there were no local DC walks or galas. None. So Jerry got a group together and organized the walk. Along the way, he also raised $250,000. Which is really amazing- just one person wanting to make a difference who inspired others to come together and well, just do something about lung cancer.

There were about 1200 people at the walk. Which, when you think of how many people show up for a typical Komen breast cancer walk, is pretty small. Especially when you consider that lung cancer kills more people that breast, prostrate, colorectal and pancreatic cancer- COMBINED. So why aren't there more walks and events? The reality of this disease is that there isn't an army of survivors. Most people who have lung cancer are diagnosed at a late stage and die within a very short time. Leaving families and friends behind to wonder what happened. And then there is the stigma. It absolutely sucks that every time someone hears what type of cancer Dan had, they ALWAYS ask if he smoked. I mean- he was 22 when he was diagnosed... People smoke and get all kinds of cancer, but the perception of lung cancer is that people bring it on themselves. Well, every person I know that has passed from this disease was a non-smoker. And even if Dan had smoked (which he never did), does that fact mean that losing him should be any easier?

So I am so glad we had the opportunity to do the walk. Thanks to everyone who came out and walked with me. Hopefully next year, it will double in size. And it was a good reminder to me that individuals can make a difference, not just organizations.




5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Meg-
I'm glad the walk went well and I'm so sorry that I didn't make it. I will be there next year to support!

Hope to see you soon. Keep up the good fight.

Love,
Sarah

Irene said...

I continue to be impressed with how much work you are putting into these activities.

Cicily said...

Thank you for all that you do. Cicily

Patrice said...

Meg,

You rock--WAY TO GO!!!! Can't wait to hear about the Lance Armstrong Summit and see you next weekend for the Eagles vs Redskins!!! We have so much to catch up on--thinking of you lots-been super busy this month --crunch time for selling season on QVC. Love, Patrice

Sorkins said...

Meg -- You never cease to amaze me. Thanks for helping to make Breathe Deep DC a success. I am incredibly grateful for your contribution to our efforts and for rallying the "Waeger Will Win" team.

Have a good Thanksgiving

Jerry