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:

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