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Creating Hope with Survival

  • November 17 2014

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    Creating Hope with Survival
    Wendi Jay's wish is that her mom's survivor story will bring hope to others facing the disease. Read her story in the fourth installment of our Lung Cancer Awareness Month Blog Series.

    When my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010, it was overwhelming for my family. My sister and I felt helpless. My mom had a major surgery to recover from and a huge fight ahead of her.  Her mission would be clear, beat lung cancer. 

    Let me tell you a bit about my mom.  My mom is the person I call when I am sick, she is the person I call when something exciting happens.  She is the person who laughs with me when I do something stupid.  If you know me, you know this happens frequently.  She is the person who has nurtured and supported me.  She has loved me unconditionally the way only a mother can do.  She taught me how to be a mom. 

    My mom is strong and tenacious. It doesn't matter that my sister and I are all grown up she still takes her motherhood role seriously.  She is the grandma that shows up at every soccer game, every tennis match and every orchestra concert just beaming with pride. She is the glue that holds our family together. She is so much more than a lung cancer diagnosis.

    After learning she had lung cancer, we needed to know how we could help. What would our mission be? Of course, we would encourage and support her, help with her post surgery care and be with her for chemo treatments. Still, we wanted to do more.

    I'm not even sure how we learned about the Milwaukee Free to Breathe Run/Walk. Everything from that time seems blurry.  What I do remember was that it seemed like a tangible way to help.

    That first Free to Breathe walk was a touching one. Pinning that "I'm Walking in Honor of My Mom" sign on my back is always very emotional for me, and that year was especially so. Mom was still recovering from surgery and unable to join us, but walking in her honor was empowering.  Raising money to increase awareness meant I was doing something. I felt a little less helpless. Being with a group of people who understood what we were going through made me feel safe.  Having friends and family donate and join us on the walk was humbling.   It felt good to stand amongst others who shared the belief that awareness and funding of lung cancer was a priority.

    After that initial walk in 2010, my mom has joined us in the annual event. Seeing her in that survivor shirt is always a prideful moment for my sister and I.  We are thankful she is with us and we recognize that we are one of the lucky ones. But last year's walk had a different feel for us.  My mom's cancer was back and she was back in the battle.  To be honest, she felt a bit disheartened and sad to not see more attendees in that survivor shirt walking by her side.  When we began assembling for this year's walk, she wasn't sure she wanted to join us because she was afraid she would feel that same sadness.  But then, my very insightful 14 year old daughter, Kyleigh heard that grandma might not walk with us.  Although Kyleigh understood the reasons she, reminded us that grandma needed to be there.  She needed to be the inspiration for someone else fighting this battle.  She needed to encourage someone else.   Who could argue with that? 

    When my sister and crossed the finish line that day, my mom was waiting for us after having completing the one-mile walk in her survivor shirt.  The best part was, she wasn’t waiting alone.  A 17-year survivor found my mom in the crowd.  She hugged her, she encouraged her and she let her know it was indeed possible.  I couldn’t have asked for more.  That’s what these events are for support, encouragement and inspiration.

    If I could sum up my hopes for this year’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month, it would be this: I hope that when my mom puts on her survivor shirt she feels proud of the fight she has fought because It hasn't been an easy one.  I hope she knows we are thankful for all she has endured during her mission of beating lung cancer because we know that she does it for us.  I hope and I pray for my mom’s continued clear scans.  I hope my mom is an inspiration for someone else that's been diagnosed with lung cancer. I hope the people who donate and support this mission know how humbled and grateful we are.  And, I hope that the money and awareness we raise will help to double lung cancer survival rates by 2022.  



  1. Kristi 05:53pm, 11/17/2014

    Thank you for sharing. Beautiful. My dad has just begun his journey and this is very inspirational. I am attending the yogathon in madison wisconsin and want to be a too fundraising team with my and my friends. Bear wishes to you, your mom, and your family.

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