A week ago yesterday, I flew to Washington DC for the Lung Cancer Alliance’s Fourth Annual Capitol Forum. First, however, I spent a few days at the home of my good friend Sally, along with her husband Rick, Daughter Ella (bella), our mutual dear friend Melinda, and a couple of cats (one of whom Ella refers to as “the ripe one”).
We ate, attended a yoga class, marveled at all the downed limbs, redecorated Sally and Rick’s home (per their request–loads of fun) and cooked and ate and drank some more. It was all over in a flash, as Melinda headed home and I to the Washington Court Hotel, where much of the forum would take place.
We were about a hundred strong; advocates and Lung Cancer Alliance staff, and following dinner, everyone attending introduced themselves and explained their personal connection to lung cancer. Most were related or close to someone battling lung cancer and in too many cases that person had passed away. There were a few survivors as well as a small number who were moved to participate through their role as caretakers. It was an emotional evening, and I headed to bed soon after.
The next morning we were up early for breakfast and an all-day information and legislative training seminar. We were also introduced to The Honorable Michael Oxley, who is a survivor of lung cancer himself.
Dinner was on our own and my dining partners included Diane Legg (Chair of the Massachusetts LCA chapter), her sister Beth, Dr. Debra Morosini, sister of the late Dana Reeves, Julia Gaynor (of Team Lung Love fame), Jennifer Windrum (founder of WTF or Where’s The Funding for Lung Cancer) and Dennis Reilly.
Tuesday morning we ‘stormed’ the capitol. We split into constituencies, and I was a member of the Massachusetts and New Hampshire crowd. It was kind of a dream team, in that several of our group were veterans of this process. Our mission was to urge our state Senators and Representatives to sponsor The Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act of 2011 (soon to be introduced, see 2010). In a nutshell, the bill asks that a comprehensive interagency response to reduce lung cancer mortality is established, and that 75 million dollars be allocated to that end.
It’s not an easy sell, but nor would it be possible to not be moved by the stories we related that day. In addition, the data from the U.S. National Lung Screening Trial was released in early January, and it is highly suggestive of the benefits of CT scans in screening for lung cancer.
It was an amazing day. To experience advocacy first hand was energizing, and I made many new friends. But by the conclusion of our appointments, we each felt physically and emotionally spent. See photo.
I am between my new friends Cecilia and Lorraine, and one of those empty martini glasses is mine. But the reason my face is so red and puffy is because I just couldn’t stop crying. One of those days.
The next morning we were to have another presentation , “Lung Cancer: Out of the Shadows” , but the weather messed with our plans big time. In addition, my fight home was cancelled, so I made the best of it and spent the afternoon with Julia, touring The National Portrait Gallery.
Thursday morning I caught a flight home, and the first thing I did was take a nap. Today it was a return to my regular schedule; loads and loads of laundry, trips to and from Pete’s school and the ski slope, answering emails, writing a blog, and catching my breath.