A few months ago, I *met* a young woman on twitter. She is a tireless advocate on behalf of lung cancer patients. It's all about losing the stigma with the hope that more funding will be provided to detect, treat and stop deaths from lung cancer. We have detection for breast cancer. We have treatments and targeted therapies for breast cancer. We're still in the dark ages when it comes to effective treatment of metastasis. A big part of my advocacy efforts are being directed toward raising awareness about all metastatic cancer, more equitable distribution of available funding for research of metastatic disease regardless of its origin.
Today, I'm taking a moment to honor Lauren's memory. I feel a sense of connection with her and I mourn the fact that that she was stolen by cancer and she was stolen far too soon. I could elucidate all of my reasons for this feeling of connectedness, but I'd rather hold it in my heart. Instead, I want to just offer my profound and deepest sympathy to Lauren's parents. I don't understand their pain, I can't even begin to scratch the surface but I know they are still devoted parents. With irreparably broken hearts.
I know what her dad and mom will be doing today. He shared it in his book. An avid kite flyer, he has one special kite that is decorated with a picture of Lauren. Today, that kite will soar on a beach near his home. It will come out again in May, on the anniversary of Lauren's death.
Helicopter Frank--and Mom, too, I want you to know you are not alone in your sorrow. Your little girl is missed by people she never knew. She continues to make an impact. Each time I see someone making any effort, large or small, to right a wrong, I think of Lauren. Because of your book, I learned so much more about Lauren. Her personality, her wit, her intelligence, her tenacity-- it shines through her final columns in NY Newsday. Life, with Cancer had an impact on many and those columns are as relevant today as they were in 2006 and 2007 when they were written.
Lauren was not her cancer and the book stands as the ultimate testament to all of her brilliance, all of her goodness, all of her no holds barred take charge personality. Wherever she was present, lives were touched. When she bared her soul in Life, with Cancer, her voice was amplified and immediately, she became the confidante and friend of many. I am certain, like me, so many were reading Lauren's words, feeling like she was speaking only to them, nodding in agreement at every other line. That is a gift. She shared her gift with the world, she put it all out there and I want to offer a gift in return.
Uniting Against Lung Cancer will be holding it's 7th annual Kites for a Cure on Long Island on May 25th. I know I shared this already but we had a kite flown in my dad's honor at their inaugural event. If you dig deeply into this blog, you will find a rather long and rambling blog post about Kites FOR A CURE. I was deeply irritated when I read about how long and hard they were forced to fight a legal battle over the name. The breast cancer rebels understand.
What started as one small gathering on a beach on Long Island has exploded as a wonderful fundraiser. There are events in many different cities. I have decided to have a kite flown in this year's event. I think I will ask them to decorate it with the words #FearlessFriends and #NoStigma. It is for Lauren and it is for my dad. All three of us were patients at MSKCC at the same time in 2006 and 2007. Lauren was gone in May. My dad in July of complications stemming from a lung cancer diagnosis. In late 2006 through mid 2007, we were three patients in active treatment. I'm here. They aren't.
If anyone wishes to offer financial support for lung cancer research, I'm embedding a link which makes it very easy. Since UALC is a 501c3 charity, donations are tax deductible through a website called Razoo. Of course, donations can be made directly to UALC by clicking here. The fundraiser page is called:
If you have the means and are so inclined, I hope you will consider joining me in support of the lung cancer community. In memory of Lauren, in memory of my dad, in honor of my mom and of all metastatic patients, and most of all, on behalf of those with lung cancer, I stand beside you.
A big thank you to Lauren's dad for sharing the photo of the very special kite soaring among the clouds on a beach in Massachusetts. I'm humbled by his kindness in sharing this with me.