Creating a Community of Hope for Lung Cancer Survivors

CURELung Special Issue (1)
Volume 1
Issue 1

LUNGevity’s annual summit helps people with lung cancer live better and stay informed.

In 2017, Denise Marshall had one goal: to live long enough to make it to the LUNGevity HOPE Summit in Washington, D.C., that April. She accom­plished her mission but was also in hospice care and on oxygen when she attended. Inspired by other patients with lung cancer and with renewed hope in research and information about therapy advance­ments, Marshall sought another medical opinion and together with her doctor, decided to come off hospice and seek treatment. A year later, she again attended the annual summit, this time without her oxygen tank and with her disease stable, to reunite with her lung cancer community.

HOPE Summit, a weekend-long educational conference offered by LUNGevity Foundation, is for all people affected by lung cancer. Attendees learn how to live well with the disease through informational sessions, inspirational speakers, clinician and research experts, caregiver-specific sessions and opportunities for survivors to connect with each other.

JILL FELDMAN is a 10-year lung cancer survivor.

Since its inception in 2011, HOPE Summit has grown from 17 lung cancer survivors to nearly 400 participants that also include caregivers, advocates and health care professionals. Jill Feldman, a 10-year lung cancer survivor, has attended every year since 2013. “Cancer fosters an instant intimacy. There is nothing like connecting with someone else in the trenches,” she says. “From the outside looking in, no one can understand, and from the inside looking out, it can’t be explained. We get it in a way that no one else can who has not lived it. HOPE Summit provides that community.”

However, that sense of community might not come easy for people with lung cancer who may feel isolated or stigmatized. “My family felt alone when several family members died of lung cancer,” Feldman says. “Now, no one has to suffer in silence. Social media has helped, but if it weren’t for this event, many connections would remain online, which just isn’t the same.”

She adds: “To me, the most important part of HOPE Summit is the connection and friendships that last all year long, and knowing there is a large, caring community fighting with you and for you and (is) there anytime you have questions or need strength. That is hope — knowing you’re not alone and believing that nothing, even cancer, can defeat the human spirit.”

This year, HOPE Summit has grown into the International Lung Cancer Survivorship Conference and anticipates close to 500 participants. The Conference is now made up of three individual summits: HOPE Summit for patients, COPE Summit for caregivers and the Survivorship Summit for advocates and survivors who want to hear about more advanced topics.

DENISE MARSHALL and her daughter, CORRINE RICHARDSON, at the 2018 HOPE Summit.

Patients with lung cancer can have more hope now than ever before. Research has not only accelerated therapy but is also pointing to promising new ways to find the disease early, when it is most treatable. These advancements allow many patients to live their lives with the disease — working, parenting and traveling.

“HOPE Summit started out as a small group of people and has grown into this large caring community,” says Feldman. “Cancer knows no boundaries, but neither does the strength of community. HOPE Summit embodies strength, resilience and hope, and over the years has grown and adapted to the changes and needs of lung cancer patients and their families. HOPE Summit has proved to be lifesaving for some who gained knowledge from some of the sessions, but HOPE Summit has proved to be life changing for everyone who feels the undeniable strength, love and spirit that is firm and fierce.”

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