Still unsure whether HOPE Summit is for you? Here, in their own words, are comments from several HOPE Summit alumni.
Benita R: I attended the HOPE Summit in Southlake [TX] and thoroughly enjoyed it. I met so many wonderful people and came to learn that, although we all have lung cancer, we had different treatments and reacted differently to certain drugs. It certainly is not a cut and dried cancer. The speakers were very interesting and I was able to gather quite a bit of information from them. I will be unable to attend the National in DC but look forward to the next one closer to home and to keep in touch with everyone through the amazing HOPE Summit Alumni site.
Cindy G: My experiences at HOPE Summit left me with a feeling of kinship towards my fellow survivors and those otherwise involved with LUNGevity. We all have felt the pain of a lung cancer diagnosis so there is no searching for perspective inside this group because we all know.
Randall B: The first time I attended the LUNGevity National HOPE Summit, I had no expectation; I had no idea what I might possibly be stepping into. All I knew was I had been diagnosed with lung cancer two years prior and told that was approximately how long I had to live. What transpired over that first weekend was nothing short of magical. Not only did I realize I wasn’t the only one dealing with similar emotional and physical issues, I was among a group who knew life’s secret handshake. There was no judgment, no need to explain how you got "it," and most of all, surrounded by people who were entirely focused on living for today. All knowing the fine line of life the situation presents. It was extraordinary in every way imaginable. Last year, with the grace of God, I was able to attend for a second time and the experience was even better … as in twice as great seeing there were two times as many "hand-shakers." The National HOPE Summit is my favorite annual event and I plan to be a perennial attendee for many to come … Thank You LUNGevity for "getting it." It’s beyond special…
Jane E: Knowing you are not alone in your battle, being with warm, wonderful people who are walking a similar path, filled me with hope. I have an incredible support system, but no one else has actually struggled with lung cancer. I feel more empowered and know I can reach out to others who are also trying to keep abreast of current treatments. Praise God for this event and to all who make it possible!
Pat D: Being at the HOPE Summit was a great experience. Meeting so many with similar stories is awesome. Meeting people who have been survivors for more years than me is wicked cool because it means I can live a lot longer than I ever thought possible, and I will, thanks.
Gail L: It is very rewarding to meet so many LC survivors with whom I share our mutual lives. Each patient travels a different road — a different experience, we know LC is never the same in different bodies. Together we are so much stronger than just one of us alone. The strength in the HOPE Summit group is tangible, it's so strong ... The attendees shared so much of themselves, so many personal challenges, so many personal stories. Let me give you this advice: if you can attend a HOPE Summit, don't walk, run! You'll be better for it. G-d bless us one and all!
Audrey E: When I first heard about LUNGevity and HOPE Summit I wasn't prepared for what lay ahead. What I found was a group of professional people dedicating themselves to help those of us experiencing lung cancer. No matter what the stage or circumstance, there was a lifeline to an extended family and while I knew no one, it wasn't long before I felt a member of this family. The most beneficial aspect of being a member is not the great information that's shared. It's not the wonderful compassionate medical professionals who give of their time and expertise; it's the friends that I've made, and the ability to offer my support to others.
Stephanie G: I don't have LC, my husband does, and truthfully I was worried it would be depressing. I was afraid I might sit there and look around and cry looking at so many folks with LC. Well, that didn't happen. Didn't even come close. There was something special about a whole roomful of people with a common goal. I never knew how many different types of LC there are. I was amazed by the stories of how the initial diagnosis was made. The inspiring stories of HOPE gave me hope as I'm sure it did others. Every time someone stood up and told their story of how they beat the odds, how the doctor said, go home, we've done all we can. How they went to another doctor. I got a THRILL. I liked hearing all the new science. I loved how it made my husband feel. For a change no one came up to him and asked "did you smoke." For a change no one came up and told us the story of how they know someone who just died of LC. Don't get me started on the food. Please, folks, if you're on the fence, jump off with both feet — LUNGevity will keep you safe.
Don S: Penny and I attended the HOPE Summit in Arlington last May. I was visiting Penny in New York at the time, so we decided to take a short road trip to the HOPE Summit in Arlington. Penny was so uplifted to meet all our survivor friends that until then we had only known online. The experience gave her renewed energy to continue fighting this horrible disease. I think what impressed us the most about the weekend was that it was not about fundraising and promoting LUNGevity. The weekend was about learning how to take care of ourselves physically, spiritually, and mentally. We had wonderful fellowship and delicious food with fellow survivors, LUNGevity staff, and medical doctors, who were also survivors themselves. One of our favorite times was the bus tour of the White House Saturday night.
Penny passed last month after a 30-month battle with small cell lung cancer; she never stopped fighting until the end. One of the last promises I made her was to continue to advocate for lung cancer research and awareness. I hope to see old and new friends at the Summit in May.
Alisa B: HOPE Summit is community, like no other because of what brings us together. HOPE Summit is a weekend home where we compare surgery scars, chemo horror stories, laugh about things and mean it! HOPE Summit is where we can get as much medical information/social support as you want (or don't want, there's much to do). HOPE Summit can't really be explained. The air is different. Somehow you truly feel like you are with temporary soul mates, even if it's once a year ....
Jerry S (Lynn S's husband and advocate): Attending HOPE Summit is like going from a sea of grade 5 turbulence to a temporary harbor of calmness. The harbor served plenty good breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and many can share their turbulence experience and offer support and advice to each other. And believe me, when one is experiencing an upside-down world, a temporary calm harbor is like a godsend.
Linda I: HOPE Summit brings hope to all there "together," feels wonderful! I never knew there were so many of us; it put things in a new perspective for me. It is sad to me that we have lack of funding. I loved how Alisa described the HOPE Summit. I still get angry when people ask me if I was a smoker .... I ask them if it makes any difference, No one deserves LUNG CANCER, we need to band together and find a cure.
Tracy A: I was never one for "support groups" but I have to say that HOPE Summit is much more than that. I didn't know what to expect when I first attended in 2012 but it was as close to magical as one could get. I felt instantly connected to strangers who became family. I can't even begin to explain what HOPE Summit has given to me. But I will say that this group makes me feel empowered. I have learned so much about LC and more importantly, myself and how I can help others to not just survive, but thrive. I love what LUNGevity has helped me to become! It has given me more than just hope, it has given me "new life" or one with more purpose.
HOPE Summit means many things to many people. We all know that LUNGevity helps to raise awareness and crucial funding for LC research, but LUNGevity goes above and beyond with the Summit. I didn't know what to expect when I attended my first one in 2012. I thought I would get some good information about the disease and how to manage my care and stay cancer-free. What I got was so much more important and powerful. I found FAMILY. People who understand. People who have either been through what I went through, or were just beginning their journey. I met people who encouraged, supported, and cheered me on. I met people who needed my encouragement, support, and cheers. I learned a lot from the speakers and those on the panels but when it was all said and done, I learned more about myself than I ever thought possible. I am strong, I am a fighter, I am a SURVIVOR!
HOPE Summit is about and for US... the survivors and our caregivers. It provides exactly what the name implies... HOPE. I have made friends I will cherish for the rest of my life. Many of them are a part of my daily life. I chat with them on FB and on the phone all the time. I pray for them, cry, laugh, and do happy dances with them. I even drove 15 hours to hug one of them during her time of need. These people have enriched my life, and I will never be the same because of them. I love my HOPE Summit family and I owe it all to YOU, Katie and everyone at LUNGevity, who work so hard to make each one of us feel important, loved, cared for, and empowered! If it weren't for you, I wouldn't know how blessed I truly am. You have given us the gift of family, strength, and HOPE. Love you guys for all you do!
Jose R: My first attendance at the HOPE Summit gave me exactly what I was looking for, HOPE. After a shocking LC diagnosis, overwhelmed with surgery, treatments, and scary survival odds — the sense of community and positive outlook I experienced during the weekend changed my life. I do not know whether I will die of lung cancer, but today I do know that I am not alone.