Recently a new post on the Lung Cancer Support Community message boards posed a question asking why some people care about advocating for a cause and why others don’t. Many of our strongest advocates are survivors or surviving family members but there are a number of people who’ve been affected by lung cancer who don’t actively support the cause. Some people seemingly “move on”, or move past the trauma of the disease never to give it a second thought…
Unfortunately, I don’t have a clear cut answer to this question.
I wish I had some great insight into why some people choose to become advocates and others don’t. As the Director of Support and Advocacy, I could bottle it and build a legion of people to wipe out lung cancer! Seriously I digress. But to better understand why some people choose to become involved and “do something” helps me determine the best advocates to train to join us in the fight against lung cancer.
I look for passion and initiative. Advocacy doesn’t come with a road map or hand holding. I don’t believe there is such a thing as passive advocacy. You have to seek out opportunities and then act.
The individuals who reach out to me and show interest are the people who are dedicated to putting in the time and emotional man power to raise awareness, create great events, help craft programs and spread our message. I look to see how long it takes someone to answer a general call to action or respond to an email. That gives me an indicator of their level of dedication.
For me, advocating came instantly. It wasn’t a choice. Becoming a caregiver to a loved one with lung cancer definitely wasn’t a choice either. My choice would have been for my dad to have been healthy and not to have gotten lung cancer. 9 years ago, he wasn’t given a fighting chance or much attention and so it was up to me to demand he receive the care he deserved. And there was virtually no support for him or our family in 2002, so I decided then to advocate for that too.
A disease like lung cancer comes with a wicked stigma, little research funding, sparse media attention and sometimes very little compassion for those diagnosed.
The more my father faced that stigma, the more I wanted to educate people about lung cancer and to change that perception.
What made me decide to become an advocate? Love. Compassion. Desperation. I have an overwhelming need to honor what my family went thru- and never forget. By helping others and advocating for change it is a step towards helping another family navigate the cancer journey a bit easier, a bit softer and a bit gentler.
Why be an advocate?
Because your story can change lives, raise awareness, fund life-saving research, change standard of care, change policy, help the underserved communities and dispel the stigma so that no one else will ever have to go thru the lung cancer journey alone.