Sometime I go weeks without writing a message. Mom gives me a hard time about that but at the same time, she knows that I only write when I have something meaningful to say. Today is one of those days. It may not be meaningful to any of the people reading it, but it is meaningful to me.
Lately I find myself wearing many different hats and I enjoy that. I definately feel like I am burning my candle at both ends... and maybe a few places in the middle as well. My fear is that I am doing a lot of things yet doing none of them very well. I need to remind myself that it's ok to say NO sometimes. I don't know about the rest of you but I certainly do my best thinking when I am driving and that has been the problem lately. I live in Mount Vernon yet drive to Everett and Shoreline for work almost every day and I find myself with hours to think. Lately, I am wondering if we are doing enough to find a cure. When I say "we" I mean those of us reading this blog. We all know the Government isn't doing nearly enough to fight this "invisible cancer" (which it is accurately nicknamed.) I also find myself wondering where the money we raise should be going. Should the money be going to the American Cancer Society... or something lung cancer specific? Most importantly I wonder how our fundraising efforts are helping to make a change.
The thought that goes through my mind every day is, "Will $10,000 be better spent in the hands of the lung cancer researchers, or motivated, passionate people who will educate the public and eliminate the stigma associated with this disease?" Most of the time I think this country would be in better shape handing the money to a small group of friends and family who have been touched so deeply by this experience. Law makers and government officials think it's about money and it's not. It's about opening your eyes and seeing lung cancer for what it is. It's a deadly disease that is killing people at a faster rate than any other disease.
I have gone through many changes emotionally in the past few month. First it was shock and sadness, followed by anger. I needed a reason why it happened to her. I needed answers. None of us ever got the answers we needed. I tried to follow the anger with motivation and passion for the cause. Cancer is not going to go away on its own so I figured I could sit on the bench and pout, or get up and get in the game. That's where I am at the moment. I am in the game and running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I know I should be doing something but I have no idea if it's the right thing. One of my mentors in the military once told me, "You are the leader of this group. The worst thing you can do is stay here and be content with where you are. Be proactive and move in one direction or another. In time you will know if it was the right direction or not, but there is definately no future in the present." He was right. That is exactly where I am. I am trying to move full steam ahead but I don't know if I am doing the right thing or focusing my attention in the right areas. I just keep reminding myself that bringing awareness to every person I know is a step in the right direction.
This is where I become the bad guy. I am trying not to revert back to the "anger" stage and let me assure you that I am only speaking for myself with these thoughts. By no means do I represent the thought of my family. Last night my mom was at her first lung cancer support group and I know it was exactly what she needed. She met other people who shared the same concerns about lung cancer funding that the rest of us do. My mom called me on her way home and she was so happy about meeting new people that understood where she was coming. My first question was, "were any of them non-smokers?" Normally, I hate that question. I hate when people hear my mom has lung cancer and ask me that question as if she did it to herself. BUT, I asked mom that question to see if she met someone she could connect with on a different level. She said she was the only non-smoker at the meeting. She started to tell me about the different people and mentioned that one of the guys is still smoking. I quietly listened as she told me everyone was frustrated with the lack of funding and the "stigma" associate with the disease. I finally lost it.
I told my mom that I have a hard time hearing about a group of people who smoked their whole lives (knowing it was likely to give them lung cancer) bitch about having it. Mom said, "Honey we are all in the same boat... smokers and non-smokers. We need to get rid of the stigma." Yes, we need to get rid of the stigma, but where did that stigma come from? I don't blame the American people for thinking lung cancer should get the least amount of money when 15 out of 16 people in the support group likely did it to themselves. It's the smokers (85% of lung cancer patients) who are making it difficult for the rest of the country to get behind the disease. I am committed to finding a cure for cancer. I will forever be committed, but I am very torn on the lung cancer issue.
I can't think of a more tragic position to be in than to be a non-smoker who has lung cancer. Smokers know they are likely signing up for the disease with each new puff of the cigarette. Nobody deserves cancer, but the difference is... everyone else and every other type of cancer gets adequate funding.
Smoking makes me sick. Tobacco companies make me sick. More importantly, the fact that the U.S. makes millions (if not billions) of dollars taxing tobacco products (yet spends almost none of it to support lung cancer research) makes me sick.
(Please send my hate mail to email@example.com and not post it on mom's page.)