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Survivor and Advocate Cassie Gilmore Looks to 2022

  • May 22 2013

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    Survivor and Advocate Cassie Gilmore Looks to 2022

    Survivor Cassie Gilmore is currently the top Free to Breathe® fundraiser in country, raising over $31,000 for the Free to Breathe Dallas/Fort Worth Run/Walk on May 19, 2013. This article originally appeared in the Spring edition of the Partnership's print newsletter, Lung Cancer Voice.


    It can be difficult for me to see all the way to 2022. Like so many diagnosed with lung cancer, I have to take things one day at a time. I was diagnosed not even a year and a half ago, and the end of June 2013 will mark just a year since I finished chemotherapy.

    And yet, despite the fact that 2022 can seem like a long way off, the Partnership’s new vision to double lung cancer survival creates a new way to look to the future, adding an extra sense of purpose every day to my support of the lung cancer movement. I am certain that when survival statistics rise, public awareness and research funding will rise with them.

    I found out I had lung cancer on February 9, 2012, during an afternoon I should have spent teaching my sweet third grade students. Instead, my family and I gathered together to hear a doctor share the results of a biopsy. I remember watching the doctor as he strung together a series of words; “tumor is malignant….found this late…talk to an oncologist.”

    The magnitude of those words was life altering. I was 29 years old. How could this have happened to me?

    As the reality of living with lung cancer began to settle in, it became a part of my new life. But it was not a one-way relationship. I realized that lung cancer needs a face, a strong voice and above all, the research necessary to find cures.

    I am not naïve to the fact that it will take money to get us there. So, barely two months after my diagnosis, I started fundraising for the 2012 Free to Breathe Dallas/ Fort Worth Run/Walk. I was in the middle of chemotherapy and I had just a month before the event, but I raised over $10,000. Suddenly, I had a new mission in life.

    Looking to keep the momentum going, I attended the Partnership’s 2012 Lung Cancer Advocacy Summit. Then, armed with my new advocacy skills, I set a fundraising goal of $20,000 for the 2013 Free to Breathe Dallas/Fort Worth Run/Walk.

    Fundraising is all about making personal connections. This year, I sent over 200 letters to friends, family and businesses, detailing my own lung cancer journey and my hopes for the future. By including a stamped envelope addressed to the Partnership, I make donating as easy as possible. I handwrite a thank you card to everyone who contributes, and those who don’t donate the first time around get a second letter with updates on my fundraising goal and how I’m doing as a survivor.

    The response has been overwhelming. This year, I’ve already raised over $31,000.

    Ultimately, I want to help researchers find more cures for lung cancer, and doubling survival is an important step on that journey. As a survivor who has tested positive for two genetic mutations, I know how much scientific progress is being made on the molecular level. With so much happening on the research front, it’s meaningful to me that the Partnership recognizes that research, molecular tumor testing, clinical trials and patient education are the future of survival.

    My personal goal for 2022 is simple: I would like to be alive. One day at a time, I am building toward that goal.

    My most recent CT scan showed no signs of cancer. My Free to Breathe fundraising totals continue to grow. Together, I know we will beat this disease. Together, we will double lung cancer survival, and we will continue working until a cure is available to everyone.

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