3 Best Ways Lung Cancer Survivors and Caregivers Can Give Back

Contributor: Nathan Pennell, MD, PhD

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lung cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event. Every year, thousands of people will go on to be cured and enter the ranks of lung cancer survivors, while many more are living with lung cancer at various stages of treatment.

Regardless of whether you or your loved one are celebrating being five years cancer-free or are still living with cancer, you may find that you are thankful for the care you received and want to give back, such as by supporting lung cancer patients and the organizations and clinicians who provide cancer treatment. Those who want to raise awareness about their disease can give back, too, and help scientists find a cure by bridging the gap left by low levels of federal funding for lung cancer research.

You can always call your local cancer center and donate money. However, if you decide that you want to do something more, there are a number of other ways you can make a big difference.

1. Volunteer as a patient mentor

As survivors know all too well, being diagnosed with lung cancer is frightening and confusing, and navigating the path from diagnosis through treatment can be a big challenge. Who better to help guide a new patient through this life-altering period than someone who has already been there? Patient mentoring programs, such as the 4th Angel Mentoring Program, match survivors and/or surviving caregivers with new patients or caregivers, to serve as a sympathetic ear and help them through this harrowing process. Ask your local cancer center if they have a mentoring program or contact 4th Angel to support someone who really needs it.

2. Participate in local events and fundraisers

Every cancer center needs money for research and to provide resources for patients suffering from cancer, and many patients require financial assistance to pay for cancer care. Check with your oncologist’s office or local hospital to learn about events being held to raise support, and you’ll find that they always need participants and volunteers.

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Often these events allow you to be sponsored by others, so when you walk, run or bike to fight cancer, your contributions can be multiplied many times over. For example, I’m running the Chicago Marathon in October as a member of the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation team and getting support from my friends and family to help me reach my fundraising goals.

3. Become a lung cancer patient advocate

Ever wonder why every October the entire country seems awash in pink ribbons? This phenomenon is driven by breast cancer survivors going out and demanding attention and money to fight their disease. This has resulted in dramatic improvements in funding and ultimately better cure rates. You can make the same thing happen for lung cancer by getting involved and raising awareness about the condition that affects you or your loved one.

Great non-profit organizations are fighting to raise awareness and money for lung cancer research and patient support, and relying on local advocates to do so. Organizations like LUNGevityLung Cancer Alliance, and the Bonnie Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, among countless others, all do amazing work advocating for lung cancer patients. But they need grassroots support.

Just last month, two of my patients worked with an organization to hold a fundraiser that engaged hundreds of patients, families and caregivers in our community. The fundraiser ended up raising more than $35,000 for lung cancer research.

You, too, can make a big difference. These are just a few suggestions of how you can give some of your time and experience to change the lives of current and future lung cancer patients.

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More information
Lung cancer treatment guide

This post is based on one of a series of articles produced by U.S. News & World Report in association with the medical experts at Cleveland Clinic. 

 

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