Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month!

Spread the word. If you see people wearing a pearl colored ribbon this month, now you'll know it's for lung cancer. Maybe you're thinking "I've heard enough about cancer lately " but then that's probably because you're fortunate enough not to know anyone affected by it. Congratulations. No seriously, you're lucky. The sad truth is that most people know of at least one person who has had, or has died of cancer. Believe it.

For the rest of us who have had cancer hit way too close to home, keep fighting the battle. Cancer isn't just something that affects the person who has it. It also takes a toll on the family members and friends. Everyone always wants to help, and sure donations to an organization are good, but the real help is standing by your loved one so they know you're in this together.

One of my problems with lung cancer is that many people think those who died "did it to themselves". In a sense you're right, but do you think it makes it any easier on the family and friends? Not everyone who gets lung cancer is a smoker either so did they do it to themselves too? I think not. There isn't enough funding going toward researching lung cancer because there are other cancers out there that get more exposure. People believe lung cancer is more preventable so it gets put on the back burner. Whatever your opinion, the bottom line is ALL types of cancer should be researched. How can anyone say a person who died of breast cancer is more important that someone who died of prostate cancer? You can't. It's still a loss but hopefully we're getting closer to a cure for all cancers every day.

I could spout off the facts but you've heard it all before. Those of you who are smokers will probably continue to smoke. That's your right. I'm not here to lecture you. What I will do is explain what I've gone through and maybe it will make you think twice about your habit.

When I was 18 years old, my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was away in college and separated from the doctors appointments and constant reminders but I never forgot. My parents thought it was best to not fill me in on all the details to "protect" me but it turned out to do more harm than good. I never knew how bad it really was and I never ever thought it would kill her. You're parents are supposed to be invincible, right? Cancer doesn't care.

Two years later after several radiation treatments, chemotherapy and a remission in there somewhere, we lost her. May 1st, 2006 at 11:11pm. "Wish time" will never be the same. She died 13 days before Mother's Day, 27 days before her 54th birthday, 79 days before my 21st birthday and 89 days before my sister's wedding. To say those next couple months were tough to get through is an understatement. She missed my college graduation the following year. She missed my wedding the year after that. She won't be there when I have a baby.

It's been 5 1/2 years now and it's still just as hard as the day she died. People always tell you it gets easier in time but the truth is, you just become numb to it. I move on with my life because I have no other choice. I think about her every single day. I don't cry as often as I used to but I still have an occasional meltdown. Unfortunately, I have to hold myself together because my uncle is currently fighting lung cancer as well. Unlike my mom who smoked since she was a teenager, he never touched a cigarette in his life. I told you cancer doesn't care.

Tragically, there are many other stories like mine out there. If you're a parent who is a smoker please think about your kids. No one wants to lose a mom or dad ever let alone in their early 20's. I have been robbed of many years and memories I could have had with my mom. No words can explain what that really feels like. 

November 17th is the Great American Smokeout! Set a goal to quit for good!


Cindy DeVol said...

Nicolette, There are no words to ease the pain. It just isn't fair to lose a parent when you are so young. And, it never gets easier. It's as fresh today as it was the day it happened. This much is true. That means that you truly love her with all your heart. You love her. And she loves you. I'll keep you in my prayers this month - as I know how difficult it is to see that pearl-colored ribbon everywhere. It's bittersweet - as if people are becoming aware (which is nice) and then punching you in the gut at the same time (less than nice).
Hang in there. You are not alone. :)
Cindy D

Christina said...

I'm so sorry to hear you had to go through that. My Granny died of lung cancer also. I was 16 and there every step of the way. Cancer is an ugly disease and I do hope one day they'll find a cure.

Cara said...

Nikki, I am so sorry for what you had to go through. You are right....cancer SUCKS and doesn't discriminate. My Mom was diagnosed this month, so as an only child, I am living in my own personal hell right now. It sounds odd to say, but I was happily suprised when I came upon your post< I actually felt like I wasn't alone. Lung cancer isn't very 'sexy' so it doesn't get the attention and is so underfunded as far as research that it is ridiculous. Anyway, as a way to try to cope with it all, I am trying to blog. Would you mind if I linked to your entry from my blog?

All the best,
Cara (

lauren.leet said...

Not such a fan of this post. This was such an emotional time...Reading this had me bawling my eyes out during my planning time. (next time warn me not to read sad posts in the middle of the day!!) I remember every moment and emotion experienced throughout those 2 years. You are such a strong woman and I will always admire how you responded during such a difficult time in your life - even still graduating in 4 years! Your mom would be SOOOOO proud of the woman you have become. Love You!!