Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I am an advocate

Over the last year I have become a major advocate for two different kinds of cancer - Ovarian and Lung. I know they don't really have anything in common besides that they are different kinds of cancer, so allow me to explain because I don't think I've ever talked about this on here before.

In April of 2010 when I decided I was going back to school and would be leaving my full time job, I wanted to find an internship. I looked through several websites, talked to a career counselor and eventually landed a Marketing Internship with a local Ovarian Cancer group. I knew basically nothing about Ovarian Cancer, but I knew I wanted to try out working with a non-profit and since Breast Cancer runs in my family (and the two tie in together) I thought it would be a good fit. Little did I know the passion that I would gain for this cause in the process, how my wardrobe would be overwhelmed with Teal clothes and how my heart would break when two of our survivors lost their fight. I never thought I would want to stay on at the end of my internship and continue on as a volunteer mentoring the new interns. I am now the assistant chair of the Marketing Committee as well as the Chair of the Live and Silent Auction for the gala held each spring. The women that I have met have touched my life in more ways that I can ever explain, they've taught me to listen to my body, to know when to ask for more tests or a second opinion, that life is something so precious and faith can pull a person through just about anything.

In April of 2011 my grandpa was diagnosed with lung cancer after an inoperable mass was found on his right lung. He began chemo almost immediatley and is doing surprisingly well at the moment. He's going for his fifth treatment today, and although he's lost most of what was left of his hair, has gone down a pants size and lost around 18lbs, he's doing a lot better. He was the most upbeat I've seen him in a long time over the holiday weekend and thankfully the chemo hasn't been making him too sick. After he was diagnosed I vowed to help someone I know quit smoking. I've had a hard time deciding who will be my "victim" because this isn't exactly something you can make someone do unless you really want to quit. My grandpa was a smoker when he was younger, but I always remember him chewing tobacco, which I know is just as bad. I will admit that I used to smoke in college, it wasn't a horrible habit and it took me about a week to go through a pack. I can't even remember the last time I bought a pack of cigarettes and for that I'm glad. There are a lot of smokers in my family and a lot of them really make me upset, a lot of my cousins and other family members smoked while they were pregnant and now their kids have asthma and other problems, they smoke in their house while their little kids are in the room and in the car with a baby. The temptation to rip the cigarette out of their hand and give them a little "love tap" has come over me more times than I can count.

Watching someone you love battle an illness that could have been prevented is not an easy task and I'd like to never see that happen to another person I love. I also want all of the women who read this blog to remember that its important to talk your OB/GYN about ovarian cancer, your risk and the symptoms. For more information you can visit www.ocao.org or leave me a comment! For more information on the American Lung Association please visit www.lungusa.org


For what causes are you an advocate?

2 comments:

Caitlyn said...

Great post! I don't know if I'm an advocate for much right now besides my own family and friends, but I do remember three years I spent working for a nonprofit as the happiest years I've had employment-wise. I was just a cold-caller, but there's something to be said about the energy that comes from everyone in a place believing so strongly in what they do, knowing that something good is coming from your labors.

My grandma quit smoking 20 years ago, and while she doesn't have lung cancer, she was diagnosed a few years ago with emphysema. My idiot cousins still smoke (though at least the one with kids does it only in his garage, nowhere near his sons).

Miss you! My thoughts and prayers are with your grandpa!

The Constant Complainer said...

I was instrumental in helping our company roll out a smoking cessation program, which has been very well received.

And I like to research and pick charity causes that either really need the help or that are close to my heart for when I run. This year I ran in the Cleveland Marathon and helped raise money to help fight A.L.S.

Keep up the great work!