*In November (the month dedicated to lung cancer awareness), bloggers are highlighting a different advocate everyday. My first post is about Diane Legg and it is on Day 13.
It was March of 2006. Dana Reeves had just died and I was reeling. As a young woman with lung cancer, I’d hitched my star to Dana’s, and her loss felt terribly personal. But then I happened to pick up a copy of the Newburyport Daily News. Inside was a story about a young mother of three with lung cancer; Diane Legg. I found her phone number online and called her that afternoon. We chatted a couple more times but our plans to have coffee somehow never materialized.
In 2008 my path and Diane’s crossed once again. I was attending Lung Cancer Alliance’s annual Shine a Light on Lung Cancer at the Prudential Center in Boston because my trial buddy Kevin Brumett was speaking—Kevin and I were early participants in the first clinical trial for an ALK inhibitor. Well, as a co-chairperson, Diane was there too and we finally got to meet. And the rest, as they say, is history.
I treasure Diane as a close friend but also as an inspiration; the first person I saw a little further down this path than myself.
Diane was only 42 when she was diagnosed with NSCLC. She’d strained a muscle while picking up her one year old and when the pain didn’t go away, she was scanned to rule out a pulmonary embolism. What they found instead was lung cancer.
The fact that Diane has lung cancer is not the reason she became a passionate advocate. Instead it was the death of a close family friend who had been diagnosed at the age of 43 just a few months prior to Diane. Devastated by how quickly her friend passed, Diane was galvanized into action: “I turned her loss into advocacy.”
Her first act of advocacy was to become co-chair of the Massachusetts chapter of the Lung Cancer Alliance. All those Shine A Light on Lung Cancer events? That was Diane’s brainchild. She also teamed with her husband Dave to form TeamLUNGStrong, part of the annual Pan-Mass Challenge. Monies that they raise are earmarked for lung cancer research at Dana Farber and Massachusetts General Hospital. Despite the fact that her cancer is now advanced Diane herself rides in the PMC (amazing, truly amazing).
I asked this mother of three and super advocate what motivates her. She responded very matter of factly that ‘you don’t have a choice, you just go on–everyday is a gift.’ And then I wondered what she would want if she could have anything in the world. Her answer? ‘Not to worry.’
Fitting somehow that this post is going up on Friday the 13th. Diane and I both had some really bad luck; non-smokers diagnosed with lung cancer at a young age. However, we also know when to count our blessings. More than a decade after diagnosis we’re still here. Through this journey we have had experiences and forged relationships that have helped make the unbearable bearable. Diane, I am grateful for all you do on behalf of everyone with lung cancer. And I am oh so proud to be your friend. ❤