I was daddy’s little girl. I wasn’t done with him. I needed his advice and guidance and presence in my life. I feel robbed and I miss him every day.
When he was first diagnosed with lung cancer, I had hope.
Before I learned about the disease I had hoped that it was caught early and that there would be successful treatment options. I had hoped this was something our family would survive. I had hoped he would live to be a gray-haired grandfather and enjoy retirement. He didn’t make it. He died a year before his 65th birthday.
In the eight years since he’s been gone there have been no improvements in his type of lung cancer and very limited progress made in other types of lung cancer. Although lung cancer is the deadliest cancer killer, there is still no early detection test for the disease and very little funding compared to other cancers. The 5 year survival rate is less than 15%.
When I think about my dad, I wonder what we would be doing, what he would think of my kids, his grandchildren; the grandson who would now be taller than he was. A granddaughter he didn’t know about, who was born four months after his death, and is now 7 years old! I wonder how different our lives would be had lung cancer not entered it. I wonder what it would have been like if he had a fighting chance against lung cancer?
Although my hope waned during my dad’s lung cancer journey, I never lost it, even after I lost my dad. Hope lingered and grew little by little with each survivor I encountered. With each connection I made to another patient and another caregiver, some hope would grow.
Eventually targeted therapies and drugs like Iressa and Tarceva came onto the pipeline- and someone with a specific type of lung cancer who would have been in the 85% statistic would now not only LIVE with lung cancer, but achieve full remission! That fuelled my hope!
I’ve been a lung cancer patient advocate for 8 years now and we still have a long way to go in terms of funding, treatments and compassion for those diagnosed with this disease. There is still no early detection test; it’s still the #1 cancer killer and claims about 435 lives every single day.
But as another holiday passes without my father, I actually have more hope than ever this year because of LUNGevity. www.lungevity.org
LUNGevity is the leading private funder for lung cancer research and has propelled support and advocacy for patients and their families to a whole new level.
They have the largest lung cancer support network and grassroots network and a lung cancer summit specifically to honor lung cancer survivors.
LUNGevity is creating HOPE.
It is my hope that one day no one loses a parent prematurely to a disease as devastating as lung cancer.
It is my hope that people diagnosed with lung cancer will have a fighting chance.
I will be spending this holiday thinking about my dad and about how much I miss him in our lives. I’ll be reflecting on how his lung cancer journey sparked compassion and a life’s mission within me and how his life and death have inspired so many others.
Thank you for everything, dad.
I miss you like crazy! I still have HOPE!