I can clearly remember my first experience with lung cancer - working as a bedside nurse, looking at the CT scan result which read "...suggestive of extensive Oat Cell carcinoma." As a young nurse, I didn't quite grasp the severity of the diagnosis - but I was equipped with a hand to hold, words of encouragement and plenty of tissues as my patients world came crashing down around her. We had developed such a good rapport over my previous shifts that the attending physician asked me to accompany him while he broke the news to her.
That would mark the first time I would support someone as they first heard those two terrible words: "It's cancer." Little did I know, my journey as a cancer caregiver was only beginning.
Diagnosed with Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) in early July 2016, my father would proudly introduce me to the army of medical professionals who touched his life as his "healthcare advocate." I plunged myself into the research, relied on professional connections and didn't hesitate to call in favors. With the unwavering support of family and friends, my dad bravely fought for almost 13 months.
In October 2021, our world was rocked to it's very core when we would hear those words uttered yet again: "It's cancer." My mother... my best friend... proud Gramma... was diagnosed with Combined Small Cell Lung Cancer, a rare subtype of SCLC. I am certain that the decision to undergo treatment was not an easy one for her to make, particularly after seeing firsthand what my father endured. She knew that her focus would be on quality of life, and we were blessed to have 9 months to make beautiful memories together.
I've never quite understood my calling to become a nurse until recently, but they say hindsight is 20/20. I am honored to have supported both of my parents through their lung cancer journeys, both as a daughter and as a healthcare professional. It would be easy to wash my hands of anything related to lung cancer, to try and pick up the pieces and move on with my life - but just as I was called to be a nurse, I am compelled to continue this journey as an advocate.
In honor of my parents, Phillip and Sandra Landis, I will continuously strive to make a difference in the lives of others impacted by lung cancer. Fundraising for LUNG FORCE supports those in need and saves lives by funding innovative research and early detection initiatives.
Your donation today turns small steps into bold strides toward a world free of lung cancer and lung disease, and I am grateful for your consideration of support.