As we begin the new year, I wanted to take the time to pause and reflect. December 16 marked 3 years since my initial diagnosis. That is 3 years of life which, at the time, I wasn’t expecting to get. I remember hoping to hear my daughter’s first words, watch her first steps and thinking that my career was over. Now, Avery says “I love you daddy” and quickly runs away from me. As for my career, if you’ve read my prior posts, you know that I finished my residency and I’m an attending at VCU. I got my last scans on Thursday and things continue to be stable so I’ll be staying the course on Alectinib.
I would be remiss not to also reflect on 2020. Like everyone else, COVID-19 has hit us hard. We have, for the most part, been extra cautious (i.e. wearing masks everywhere, using Instacart/curbside pickup, meeting with limited friends outdoors and socially distanced) and are craving the next time we will be able to go on a real vacation (Lake Anna was been nice, but we would like to go a little further than 45 minutes away). Fortunately, I see getting outside of VA sometime in 2021 a real possibility. I received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Friday and I am hopeful that anyone else who wants one will be able to get it soon!
Fortunately, we were also able to continue our advocacy for lung cancer in 2020. As I mentioned in my last blog post, we partnered again with Wild Ginger in Midlothian, VA for my birthday to raise funds for lung cancer research. Between the partnership with Wild Ginger and donations from family and friends who donated directly to my birthday fundraiser, we raised just over $2,500 for ALK Positive. Although that was less than we made last year, I am so grateful for every dollar that we raised and thankful that Wild Ginger made this possible by supporting our efforts in such a tough year for most restaurants and small businesses.
Another way to show advocacy is by spreading the word so people understand that lung cancer doesn’t discriminate based on age, perceived health, socioeconomic status or even on whether or not you smoke. Since I am a prime example of this (quick recap: I was 30 when I was diagnosed, no other health conditions, on my way to being a surgeon, and didn’t smoke), getting my story out in my community is one of the biggest ways I can contribute. In January 2021, oral surgeons across the country will be able to read my story as the featured article in AAOMS (American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon) Today, our bi-monthly newsletter
We hope to continue our advocacy into 2021 and already have plans to keep it going, so stay turned!