Monday, September 23, 2013

Dallas 9/19 - 9/22

I have become a serial over-committer in my advancing age.  I'm also finding I'm less and less bashful, mostly, although all of a sudden there are times I feel like running and hiding.

A friend sent me a link to the National Lung Cancer Partnership ("NLCP") Lung Cancer Advocacy Summit ("Summit"), you needed to write several essays to apply for this 4 day summit in Dallas in September, over a weekend I have a 20 mile run scheduled.  I wasn't so sure, competing priorities being top of my mind, I'm gone all but one weekend in October; however I am passionately curious (to bastardize an Albert Einstein quote) and I really want to be a better advocate and this would supply me the tools for my tool kit (sorry for the corporate speak, if it quacks like a duck, it's a duck) .  So let's just do this.  I answered the questions from my heart, I forgot to make a copy of what I submitted so I have no idea the words used in my actual submission.  We were to submit by June 22nd, I submitted on the 21st and we would know in a month.  I got the acceptance letter!  I was thrilled and then I was terrified.  What have I done?  How do I balance everything, do I have the vacation time, does Dave/Hubb have out of town plans for that weekend, what sort of commitment is this going to be going forward (seriously, no organization is going to spend 4 days educating and entertaining you and expect nothing in return, even a non-profit, especially a non-profit)...

Nicole introduced me to a woman who lost her mother to Lung Cancer, on her 30th birthday, what a horrible present...  Sally will be 'celebrating' her 33rd birthday in November.  I cannot even imagine.  First, being in my 30's and loosing my mother (my mother lost her mother when she was 31).  Second, on her birthday, it was bad enough my youngest brother's birthday was preempted by my mother's diagnosis, and the only way I can remember the year my middle brother was married was the same year as my mother's diagnosis.  Third, do we really need a third?  Probably in some grammar book we do?  Or is that just in outlining?  Sally was accepted also and right on top of making plane reservations and sending them to me and just keeping me informed on all the logistics.  I managed to book the wrong airport, and fortunately Delta was wonderfully accommodating when I explained I booked Dallas Ft Worth and I should have booked Dallas Love Field.  Doh!!!

It was a ridiculously early flight, like the first one out of Providence last Thursday.  I'm not a great flyer, more I just find it all annoying, having to pull my hair out of its pony tail through security and getting my licence critiqued.  I've changed a lot in the last 6 years since the damn thing was printed, seriously that IS me...  My passport?  Oh that expired years ago, I don't fly internationally anymore... and then just the people, so many people, all stopping in the middle of the hallway to do what I have no idea.   See annoying.  The first flight out was a good plan on Sally's part!

So we got in early, enough time for me to hit the treadmill for 6 miles.  OMG... that wasn't fun.   And not fun for First, being on the treadmill and I've never managed more than 3.  Second, the guy next to me, after I got off the treadmill, said "I wouldn't want to compete against you in a foot race." on the treadmill next to me.  Oh really?  Gimme a break pal, I thought pickups just happened in the hotel bar because really, not buying it.  And y'all saw my Strava input...  right...  whatever...  Dave/Hubb got a kick out of that, he said, didn't he smell you? Because, really you stink, really really stink.   Honesty is of the utmost importance, but really, THAT honest?  LOL  Third, oh do I really have to say it...

Thursday night was the meet and greet.  98 advocates telling their connection to Lung Cancer.  17 are Lung Cancer survivors, from months and one at 18 years.   My curiosity is always how were they diagnosed, what were their symptoms.  My mother';s was a relentless and intensifying pain in her back.

From the NLCP website link
Lots of pains in the back, a few facial pain, and some, NOTHING, the Lung Cancer was diagnosed as part of a different test, one for a chest x-ray as a part of a screen for TB before a volunteer assignment, another chest x-ray because of a suspicion of swine flu, another a different chest x-ray due to other familial cardiovascular problems.... this disease doesn't make itself known easily and when it is in later stages.  

Most of those with loved ones with Lung Cancer, no longer had them in their lives.  I am one of the very.  I don't really enjoy being special like that, nor do I want to be one of the majority... tough stuff to deal with.

Oh, most important, if you have lungs you can get Lung Cancer.  Smoking status doesn't matter, this stuff doesn't care, 50% of newly diagnosed Lung Cancer is in never or non-smokers.  Yeah, never ever ever in their WHOLE life smoked 15%.  Scary eh?  Touch one, smoke (legal or not) and you jump in to the non-smoker category...

Ok enough lecture, but doesn't it make you think?  I'm hoping it does.  No one deserves this disease, it doesn't care if you smoked or not or even if you gave it up years ago, it simply doesn't.   Smokers deserving this disease or bringing it on themselves is a HUGE hurdle to over come.  Anyone remember the 80's and AIDS only being a gay man's or a drug addicts disease?  Not so much anymore.  

Many of you are runners, we use our lungs hard and daily and expect a lot from them.  My mother was a runner late in life, and ran till a few years before diagnosis. I as well as my father are sure her excellent health was key to her survival, her body was strong enough to heal from all the poisons used to kill the cancer.

The second and third days were full days of discussions, learning sessions, and a lab tour of some of the cutting edge research the NLCP grants fund!  Very cool.  I have a lot to process.

The fourth day was action planning, with what you have learned what are going to be your actions over the next year.  I am focusing on Education and Awareness.  One of the things my mother mentioned, and it never sank in, was there just wasn't any Lung Cancer information at her cancer center.  She goes to a Cancer Support group in Ann Arbor, MI, this is associated with the University of Michigan, one of the top cancer centers in the US... If they are lacking in materials, I am sure other places are to!  And don't worry I'll get back to posting about my running!  

That was my time in Dallas, by the numbers:  16 miles on the treadmill. 28 hours in meetings. 98 new friends (ok maybe not really but close).  Not too shabby and worth all the time I spent there and will spend in the future as a Lung Cancer advocate (oh, I should update my LinkedIN profile!!).

Beth, getting back to posting about her other passion, running, soon... hoping to run outside tomorrow... and what am I training for? Marine Corps Marathon with the Lung Cancer Alliance's Team Lung Love!!  And why am I doing this?  To double Lung Cancer survival by 2022!


  1. Wow, what a great weekend! I am sure you are just over flowing with information. Great job on the mill. I bet your first run outside will be fantastic!

    1. I am and spewing it to anyone who asks... I may be kind of annoying for a while!!! The first run outside was great, so great I did a second one that night!!! You are rocking your training, go go go Nicole!!!