In her own words –
“Diagnosis: Stage IV lung cancer.
I was a 42 year old mom, former airline pilot, with a 9 year old daughter and a 7 year old son. I was physically in the best shape of my life and a non-smoker with no risk factors. The diagnosis was devastating.
After the shock had worn off, I needed to figure out how I was going to approach my future as a survivor. One of the best things that I read shortly after my diagnosis was, “Don’t waste your cancer.” It became my goal to make every day count. When you have a terminal disease you realize that time is everything. I dedicated myself to living my best life. Doing the things that I may have put off before my diagnosis. Live your life. Live it the BEST way you can!
Say YES more often.
Go outside of your comfort zone.
Take the trip.
Learn the dance.
Eat the donut.
Like most people, when I was diagnosed I thought that only smokers got lung cancer. It turns out that you only need lungs to get lung cancer. It is the #1 cancer killer of both men and woman, but because of the stigma around smoking, lung cancer gets significantly less federal research funding than other cancers. The medications that were extending my life were created through research and I saw a way to turn my frustration into action as an advocate helping to raise these funds to find the next treatment.
On a girl’s weekend, my friends surprised me with Best Life t-shirts in honor of my mantra. That shirt became my inspiration for my own BEST LIFE team shirt for an event. We were so happy with the design, that we decided to sell them as a fundraiser. The response was very positive so we have turned this idea of living your best life into its own nonprofit, called yEAHbestlife, the EAH in yEAH, being my own initials. The nonprofit is dedicated to raising funds for lung cancer research and raising lung cancer awareness, while encouraging everyone, both survivors and others, to live their Best Life.
Taking ownership of my fundraising has been very powerful for me. It gives me hope and strength, it lets me guide where the resources are spent, and it allows me to guarantee that I will leave a legacy of giving to improve the outcome of patients living with lung cancer. I’m proud to leave this legacy for my family, who can carry on this important work of funding research toward finding a cure for lung cancer.
These are the cards I was dealt. Focusing on what I can control allows me to be able to breath through the rest. Even through the darkness there is positivity, laughter, meaningful memories, and always hope…”