Throughout my 10 year career as a lung cancer patient advocate, I’ve had many people ask me questions about advocacy, how to get started and how they can make a difference in the fight against lung cancer with LUNGevity Foundation.
I’ve consolidated those questions into 5 key points so that others who may be interested in taking that next step will have some idea of what to expect.
1. Why Advocate?
Do you know what an advocate is? Chances are you’ve been an advocate in some form the moment you or your loved one was diagnosed with lung cancer. But here’s the definition of an advocate; (n) a supporter or defender (v) to champion a cause and to stand up for what you believe in.
A lung cancer advocate will support themselves or their loved one thru the cancer journey, advocate for treatment options and medical care, educate the public about the disease, its stigma and lack of funding for research and can work towards changing the landscape of their local communities.
Some people think you need to storm the hill and change policy or have a million dollar campaign to be considered an advocate, but that is simply not the case. You can be an advocate just by using your voice, speaking up during those
times when other’s cannot, writing a letter to the editor, posting your thoughts in a blog or tweeting a 140 character message.
Are you an advocate?
Are you interested in becoming an advocate?
If you answered yes to either or both, keep reading!
2. Learn About Lung Cancer.
Before you can effectively communicate anything, you’ve got to know the facts.
Who can get lung cancer? (Anyone can get lung cancer regardless of age, gender and smoking history)
What is the 5 yr survival rate? (16%)
How does it rank in terms of federal research funding? (Less than 5% of the NCI
budget goes towards lung cancer research)
3. Learn About LUNGevity.
You need to know what LUNGevity does, what programs and services we provide, how to access them and what our research contribution is. Our website www.LUNGevity.org is a great place to learn about all of those things. In short summary we are the largest private funder of lung cancer research, offer the largest online support network with resources, education and access to experts,and we have the largest grassroots advocacy network.
4. Learn About the Ways You Can Help.
The advocate needs to decide what they are championing for. Is it better medical treatment for themselves or their loved one, seeking emotional support or education for patients and family, changing the stigma, championing for survivors, creating ways to raise awareness about the disease, creating ways to initiate changes in your local community or on a national level?
Decide what it is you want to do- then do it!
Some advocates distribute brochures to hospitals and support groups. Some advocates write articles, blogs or communicate with the media to spotlight lung cancer stories. Some advocates support others, act as a support mentor, provide information, be at rallies and health fairs, and work to change legislation. Other advocates like to host community events, fundraising events and raise awareness though social media campaigns.
There are various ways in which you can be an advocate. You don’t have to have previous experience; you just need to
have the passion and the dedication.
At LUNGevity we can help you, by providing ways in which you can make a difference, giving you ideas and access to information, webinars, training tools and notice of advocacy opportunities that become available. We can also help by referring you to resources and other organizations that can help you accomplish your advocacy goal outside of our mission.
5. Start NOW.
You are an advocate the minute you decide to support, defend or champion for yourself, your loved one, and/or lung
cancer. People with no experience, aside from their personal experiences with lung cancer, CAN make a difference immediately in their own lives and in the lives of others.
Those affected by lung cancer need you to advocate for them, and those that are no longer with us need you to be their voices.
If you are interested in learning more about advocacy thru LUNGevity’s LinkUP advocacy initiative, visit our website at