Hope Shared is Hope Multiplied: Connecting and Inspiring the Cancer Community
y whole life, I’ve believed you’re either “part of the solution” or “part of the problem.” And while being part of the solution was always important to me, I’ve especially seen over these last few years just how vital the fight for new solutions is to the lung cancer community—it gives people like me, who are also living with cancer, hope to keep walking the walk, making a difference and fighting to better the lives in this community.
My cancer journey began in January 2017 when I was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer. While cancer was in the back of my mind for most of my life (I was 18 when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer), the implications of a diagnosis didn’t sink in until it happened to me. I realized the cancer statistics aren’t just numbers. It’s personal. This is my life.
For those who haven’t been affected by cancer before, it can be hard to understand how lonely a lung cancer diagnosis can be. I was so grateful to have my family and friends supporting me, but it was ultimately very isolating. I’d awaken with my mind racing, fearing and wondering “what comes next?” I wanted to see someone on the other side of treatment, looking “normal” and living life. However, I didn’t know where to find that hope or how to find someone who could help me feel less alone. Instead, I felt vulnerable and lost.
For those who haven’t been affected by cancer before, it can be hard to understand how lonely a lung cancer diagnosis can be.
After learning my cancer biomarker, I found a new sense of empowerment and felt inspired to take control of my lung cancer journey. Even though I couldn’t change my lung cancer diagnosis, I could control how I chose to live. Knowing I had a KRAS mutation gave me hope—it made me feel more human and gave me something to connect about with other patients. Desperately wanting to learn more and aching for a place to turn—like a community for all of us living with KRAS mutations—I started KRAS Kickers as an online group.
After learning my cancer biomarker, I found a new sense of empowerment and felt inspired to take control of my lung cancer journey.
To me, KRAS Kickers is about gaining knowledge to advocate for survivorship. The growth of KRAS Kickers speaks to the inherent need to come together with others like us—it is because we all want a sense of community to share the strength of togetherness. The mission of KRAS Kickers is to connect people living with KRAS mutations, regardless of their cancer type. We are learning alongside each other and becoming empowered through research to kick cancer’s KRAS. We host events, partner with other patient organizations and provide other services so people living with cancer feel a sense of connection during their cancer journey.
What makes KRAS Kickers great is truly the community togetherness. As we continue growing, evolving and connecting, we’re also harnessing the power of being greater together and becoming stronger than we are standing alone. I never set out to create an organization; I was just looking to find a community and a way to connect with other people fighting the same KRAS mutation battle as me!
Through my work on KRAS Kickers, I’ve realized firsthand the importance of engaging directly with patients and caregivers to understand their needs. When someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, there are so many questions that come up; it’s not just “how do we treat this?” or “what does this diagnosis mean?” but also “who’s keeping dinner on the table?” and “who’ll take care of the kids?”
During those moments, one of the greatest gifts as a patient is the gift of hope—hope that there may be better days in the future, hope that people haven’t given up on you yet and hope that something bigger may be coming next. As a patient, that’s a big deal; when you think there’s nothing more out there, it’s reassuring to feel like someone still cares and wants to make a difference. It’ll always be stressful and overwhelming, but having those conversations firsthand, providing encouragement and letting people know they’re not alone—those little things add up to be something bigger. They inspire me to keep fighting and pushing forward.
One of the greatest gifts as a patient is the gift of hope—hope that there may be better days in the future, hope that people haven’t given up on you yet and hope that something bigger may be coming next.
That’s why Mirati’s work is so important to the cancer community. Knowing that they focus on developing targeted therapies helps us feel optimistic about the future. It makes me think what I’m experiencing in this moment won’t last forever; something better is coming. As I’ve said, you’re either part of the solution or part of the problem—and Mirati’s commitment to developing cancer treatments provides hope that there are new solutions coming our way.
Today, I live in Charlotte, North Carolina, with my husband and three adult children. I’m hopeful about the future and inspired by the possibilities. Hope shared truly becomes hope multiplied—this is the encouragement we all need across the cancer community. No matter what someone is going through, you are not alone. I might not be able to fix what you’re going through, but I’ll do everything I can to make sure you’re not alone and you have someone in your corner.