My mom, who was my best friend, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011 and lost her battle with cancer in November 2012. She was a loving mother and a friend to anyone. She fought cancer with a smile on her face and a great sense of humor. She was a strong woman with a big heart. Lung cancer is an awful disease and it took my mother away from me at 20 years old.
I can't say it gets easier because I honestly miss her more every day, but I can say it feels good to do something positive with something so negative. After my mom passed away I was heartbroken and I still am. There is a hole in my heart that will never feel the same, but becoming a LUNG FORCE hero is helping fill that hole. Having lost my mom is still hard, but I know I am making her proud. Being part of such a wonderful campaign gives me a sense of strength and happiness.
I created a video called “A Voice of Reason” and posted it to YouTube. I made this video after speaking at a town meeting in Rhode Island to help ban smoking at public parks and beaches. I knew at this moment I had the ability to help people and help change lives. I knew that even if my video helped just one person put down a cigarette, it was all worth it. It turns out that my voice reached many people. I shared my story straight from the heart and now I have more than 7,000 views and people who have reached out to thank me. It was an amazing feeling.
That's when I decided to do some research and learn more about how I could share my voice even further. I came across LUNG FORCE and the American Lung Association. I contacted them and was asked to speak at a panel in Boston where I met wonderful women affected by lung disease. I then was filmed for another short video to use for future footage to promote lung cancer awareness. I was then given an amazing opportunity to throw out the ceremonial “first pitch” at a Red Sox game in honor of launching the CVS/pharmacy in-store fundraising campaign to benefit LUNG FORCE. The moment was surreal and I knew my mom was with me when I threw that pitch. I was interviewed and had the experience to share my story and memories of my mother on the LUNG FORCE website for Mother's Day.
Becoming an active LUNG FORCE hero helped me become happier and has given me comfort and pride. I will be attending the LUNG FORCE Walk in Boston this Thursday and will walk with my family to show our love and support. I have made a difference and I believe that you can do whatever you put your mind to. I took something so negative and was able to do something positive with it. In order to see change, we have to make it.