Monday, November 23, 2015


Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015 

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.  This year I am participating in an effort to raise awareness through a Lung Cancer Blog Chain.  This is my second contribution. 
I'd like to introduce....

RACHAEL WILLEFORD, Lung Cancer Advocate and Co-chair of Lafayette (Louisiana) Free to Breathe*  

Rachael with Dr. Brendan Stiles at the Free to Breathe Lung Cancer Action Summit
[*Free to Breathe is a partnership of lung cancer survivors, advocates, researchers, healthcare professionals and industry leaders, united in the belief that every person with lung cancer deserves a cure.  ]
Rachael's Twitter handle:  PollywogPrinces

Rachael, what is your connection to lung cancer? 
Rachael with Lafayette Free to Breathe chair Tanya Farmer
"Four members of my mom's side of the family have died from lung cancer. Two of them were my mom's best friends - her brother and her cousin. They both were ever present in my life. In 2012, I learned that someone had started a fundraiser called Free to Breathe in my town, and I decided to participate.  Afterwards, I volunteered on a committee and would eventually become the co-chair of the event a few months later. After I learned that my mom's cousin, (who passed away in 2009,) and her father, (who also passed away from lung cancer in 1978,) had virtually the same survival rate, I dove headfirst into advocacy. I now focus on patient and community education and outreach, locally, with Free to Breathe. 

What is your typical day like?
"Well...I'm a mom with a full time job, so my days are hectic. Until recently I worked an 8-to-5 job at a radiation oncology clinic holding a few positions - from insurance billing to front desk to scribe work for a physician. Now I run the roads for a healthcare linen company, solving issues and making sure things operate smoothly. Afterwards, I come home to be a mom and a wife. When there's time to spare, I am very active on social media raising lung cancer awareness via Twitter and Facebook." 

What would you like us to know about you that we might not otherwise know?
"I'm a animal lover. We currently have two rescue dogs that we spoil and a fish named Spooky. Oh, and I'm a book lover. My husband jokes that I may be addicted. I like reading so much I ended up with an English degree."

Rachael, what do you want us to know about lung cancer?
"Everyone deserves hope! Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer. However,  knowing your risk factors and what symptoms to look for, along with screening, lung cancer can be caught earlier and survival rates will increase."

What brings you hope?
Team shirt honoring family members who died from lung cancer
"Survivors and research. I recently attended the Lung Cancer Action Summit and met several long term survivors.  Along with #lcsm survivors and a few survivors from my area, these people showed everyone that survival can be a reality. Also, the amount of progress made in the past four years is astounding. Advances in research are making the commitment to hope easier for survivors and advocates."

Thank you so much, Rachael, for giving us a glimpse into your world and how lung cancer touches it.  Thank you, too, for your work in helping raise awareness.

Yesterday's blog chain post:
Tomorrow's blog chain post:

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015

As part of Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015, I am participating in a Blog Chain.  Along with several other lung cancer bloggers, I will be interviewing members of our lung cancer community.  Our hope is to raise awareness by bringing to our readers the faces and stories of people fighting our battle, those that care for us, and our doctors that are giving us a fighting chance.

 I'd like to introduce...

JILL FELDMAN, Lung Cancer Advocate and Warrior, (in that order.)

  • Who is Jill?  She is the 13-year-old granddaughter who lost two grandparents to lung cancer within weeks of each other.  She is the daughter whose father died at 41 years old of lung cancer, nine months after her grandparents died.  She is the daughter whose mother died at 54 years old of lung cancer.  She is the niece whose aunt died at 56 years old of lung cancer.  She is the former president of LUNGevity who was diagnosed with lung cancer, during her term, at age 39.  She is a wife and mother of four teenagers ages 18, 17, 15, and 13 years.  Jill has been a lung cancer warrior for 6+ years.
  • How does Jill incorporate lung cancer into her life?: She is a tireless advocate for lung cancer patients.  She was active in the leadership at LUNGgevity (president and board member) because of her significant family history.  Following her own lung cancer diagnosis, she became more focused on research advocacy and directly reaching out to those on the front lines of lung cancer.  As a patient, she has met with several top lung cancer specialists across the country and bravely side-stepped their recommendations; opting for her own treatment path.  Her renegade spirit was worked out well for her.  
  • A typical day in Jill's life...differs depending upon the time of year.  In the summer she works at Culver Summer School and Camps, as a program
    director. (More on this later.)  Other times of the year, Jill works as a Consumer Reviewer for the Department of Defense (DOD) researching lung cancer, online and on-sight in Virginia,
    as a member of a panel tasked with deciding where DOD grant moneys should be directed. She connects with lung cancer patients as a resource for education and support, is a frequent lecturer, and is a busy mother to her active family.  She also teaches English at vocational schools.  
  • What is something most people don't know about Jill?:   The program that she is the Director of at Culver Summer School and Camps is RIFLERY.   She holds the highest rank possible in marksmanship, "Distinguished Expert".  (Who knew?!) She loves teaching and developing campers' skills, while watching their senses of responsibility and confidence rise.
  •  What brings Jill hope?  After the deaths of three friends with lung cancer, all in their 30's with young children, Jill needed to ensure that all cancer warriors know that "nobody fights alone." From that, Jill started the Traveling Hope Blanket.  The goal of this project is to bring comfort to those who need it by sharing the message of hope.  
"The hope I have is real because I can now recognize that hope is relative. I now think, and believe, that hope means so much more than simply a ‘cure’ for lung cancer!"     – Jill Feldman

        Check out the Traveling Hope Blanket website at:  

Click on 'Stories of Hope' might recognize some faces.

Tomorrow's blog chain post: