To be completely transparent, I was sick of talking about Lung Cancer. I was tired, frustrated, and I wanted to be a normal 27 year old.
I was and still am slightly embarrassed to admit it, but it’s true. The burn out was real. For 3 years all I’ve done is talk about Lung Cancer. I was so honored to advocate with amazing organizations, like Lungevity, but I was still tired.
That is until this weekend. This past weekend I attended the Annual National Hope Summit in DC, and let me tell you. The burn out is OVER. The Hope Summit is a conference where 400 survivors, caretakers, scientists, doctors, researchers, Pharma reps, and wellness speakers come together to discuss Lung Cancer. Now as I type this I realize you all are thinking, “wow what an incredibly sad weekend”. But let me tell you, I have never partied as hard in my 27 years than at the Hope Summit. These are some of my best friends and they truly fuel me. And it made me realize something incredibly important. We are not alone in our Lung Cancer, but also we are not alone in our advocacy. I talked to many of my colleagues and I was shocked to hear, they also had at one time or another felt the burn out. It was such a relief. I didn’t feel like I failed my LC family taking a little time off, if anything I felt normal.
So as I type this I also realize that I have work to do. It’s not just about getting on a stage and asking strangers to give all their money to the most deserving cause It’s also about staying in contact. It’s checking in on my friends who are facing some challenging years. It’s about reminding all of you out there to keep Lung Cancer in your mind. It’s to talk to a stranger about this organization, because you never know how Lung Cancer affects their lives. The big ask is amazing, but the small ask is what matters.
I have been inducted into the weirdest club around. And the Hope Summit is our summer camp. It’s not nearly long enough, and every weekend Sunday comes and I tearfully board my flight with dozens of advocacy ideas to fuel my mind for months.
This weekend I learned about Liquid Biopsies, Proton Therapy, Palliative Care, targeted therapy for NSLC mutations, and the use of Epigenetic Drugs in Disease. (Yes I graduated with a degree in Musical Theatre, and let me tell you I feel like now I’m basically a doctor.) But almost with equal importance, this weekend I made new friends, I learned about how people are dealing with their diagnosis, and how I can help them. This weekend was the perfect combination of life saving science, and stimulating conversation with the most powerful people I know, Lung Cancer Survivors.
Take a look at all of us looking super pretty.
I conclude this post with saying thank you to Lungevity. Thank you for putting on a fabulous conference in which I get to heal.