On Tuesday night, November 13th, I joined my friend Lorraine Kerz in Keene, NH for a special Shine A Light on Lung Cancer Vigil sponsored by the Lung Cancer Alliance. One of many taking place across the country, it was a modest, grass roots affair–a far cry from the original Shine A Light, which took place in Boston on the same evening. The event in Keene was outdoors, our lights were glow sticks, and there was a two to one ratio of audience to speakers. Taped to the front of the podium was a picture of Lorraine’s son Silas. Lorraine spoke about his tragic death from lung cancer at the age of 29 and how his passing motivated her to become an advocate for young adults with cancer. I also shared my own story, and concluded with what I hoped to be a rallying cry to action. However, it is important to know your audience, and this small crowd would have been better served by some basic information about lung cancer. No matter; Lorraine and her friend Kim, who helped organize the event, are to be applauded for their contribution to raising awareness and I am so glad I was able to attend.
Tonight there will be another event designed to bring greater awareness to lung cancer, and this one will be huge. Organized by my (amazing) friend Christine Dwyer, a mutual friend of ours, Lynne Eldridge, has written a moving article about the event for About.com Lung Cancer. I asked Lynne for permission to repost the article here, which she graciously granted:
“The Falls Will Be White for Lung Cancer Awareness 2012
Thanks to one solitary person with tsunami-like vision, Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2012 will again be celebrated by a lighting of the falls.
On November 16, 2012, Niagara Falls will be lit up in white for lung cancer. Not once, but twice.
Last year I shared the story of how this came to be. A story that transcends the event, transcends the waterfall, and transcends even lung cancer awareness month. The story about how a single person who wants to make a difference, and doesn’t say “I can’t,” can help each of us who hears it begin to say “I can.” I know I felt that way after hearing Christine Dwyers story. You can read it here:
The Birth of “Illuminate the Falls for Lung Cancer Awareness”
This year, on November 16, 2012 from 8:00 to 8:15 and again from 9:00 to 9:15 Eastern Standard Time the falls will be illuminated in honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
If you get a chance to attend the event, dress warmly. You can watch the display from Niagara Falls State Park, NY, or from Niagara State Park, Ontario, Canada.
But the really cool thing is that anyone, anywhere in the world can take part in this event via live webcam.
Links for the live feed:
Last year, despite the cold chill of November, Christine described the event as almost spiritual. As I remember her excitement, the thought keeps coming to my mind; what would happen if each of us lived the quote that Christine shared last year? “If you don’t like something, do something to change it.”
Christine has lived up to that quote. The event last year was driven by her realization about lung cancer – that it affects far too many people; people from every walk of life. Having lost her step grandfather, step dad, and best friend from the disease, she founded “Make Some Noise for Lung Cancer Awareness.” Most recently, and after arranging for Niagara Falls to be lit again for lung cancer this year, her dear mother has also been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. As she stands in the cold — but with a warm heart – watching the falls lit up this Friday, please hold her in your virtual arms.”
So, hats off to everyone who turns passion into action. Christine, who thinks not just big but loud, also hosts a site called Make Some Noise for Lung Cancer. I like her style!
Lorraine, it was so good to see you again. Lynne, thanks for lending me your words! And Jemesii, happy birthday!!!
This is awesome, just awesome!!
Jamie, that’s an excellent word for what Christine was able to visualize and then make happen!
Lovely, Linnea. I’ve enjoyed these last two posts — especially knowing that you’ve had some good days recently. Even though we are “web” friends, knowing you’re better makes all of us “web” friends, feel better too. 🙂
Dana, thanks. I was down for a bit, but not quite out. Someday’s it is just one step in front of another, but eventually we get to a new place 🙂
Many thanks for posting this Linnea along with the links. Lung cancer remains the one with stigma attached. When I am asked what my husband died of, I always need to say “he was a life time non smoker who got lung cancer”. Then comes the inevitable question “so how did he get it?” I think it comes from a very human emotion that if he did a, b or c and I don’t, then I’m safe. I don’t think people can understand the answer is that I don’t know how he got it, and you have to stop thinking about that and just concentrate on what you can do and living as well as you can. It’s a very high mountain to climb and I admire everyone who is trying to educate the general public and advocate for those who are living with the disease.
Beryl, you obviously have a clear understanding of both the human condition and why people ask what would seem to be a very inappropriate question. Something about the disease lung cancer makes it okay to be insensitive in a way that most are not even cognizant of. So, we educate them, again and again. However, I do so with the hope that we can someday get this monkey–stigma–off our back. And that it will no longer be incumbent upon us to satisfy other’s curiosity, and that instead, we will be the recipients of the compassion we deserve.
Linnea, Thank you and best of luck with both your blog and your cancer journey.