Label Me!

This May I am attending Lungevity’s annual Hope Summit just outside of Washington, DC. A friend and I decided to make calling cards we can give to the people we meet. (Selfishly, I’m also trying to drive traffic to my blog.)

One of my goals in networking is to put myself out there as someone who is willing to speak publicly about what it’s like to be slapped with a lung cancer diagnosis at age 30. I think I have something to offer to the community at large who thinks of lung cancer as something that happens to 70-year-olds who smoke a pack a day. Chris Draft, founder of The Chris Draft Family Foundation, agrees: “Lung cancer needs a face.” I also want to help other patients, if they will have me!

With that in mind, let’s get back to the cards. I will share my name, blog URL, email address, and Twitter handle. But the card looks naked without a title. I need to describe who I am in just two or three words.

My first draft said “Lung Cancer Fighter.” This is what I use on my LinkedIn profile. It’s an easy default, but it doesn’t sit well with me.

I’ve mentioned before how I don’t like using the terms “fighter” or “battle” to describe my attempt to live with a terminal diagnosis. There may be a battle against lung cancer, but that is for research and funding to find treatments and cures. My disease is not something I can beat. It’s not fair to call a patient a fighter, indicating that their ultimate success is dependent on how hard they try to get well. To call me a fighter is to call me an eventual failure!

Regarding the term “survivor”: I think that should be reserved for people who go through a challenging experience and emerge on the other side. I may have survived some things in my life, but cancer is not one of them.

So now I’m in a pickle. If I’m not a fighter or a survivor, what am I?

Medically, I’m a patient, subject, and lab rat (one of my favorites). Of course I’m also a blogger/writer and (hopefully) a speaker. Maybe I’m a “cancer sherpa” or something else unique.

I would like your help! What should the business card say to describe me to a stranger in just a few words. Anything goes – make me laugh!

Once I’ve selected a title, I’ll post an electronic proof of the card. Thanks for your help!


23 responses to “Label Me!

  • Kathy B.

    Hi Jessica,

    My initial thought was hope after 30 but that just does not work in your case, it does not have the punch you need to define what you are going through. So thinking it through more you are warrior, skilled in combat or warfare.

    Good luck!

    Kathy B.

  • rita nauman

    so neither of these actually expresses what i want to but they did pop into my head. both are just goofy, and perhaps memorable

    “Lung cancer is leaving me breathless”
    “thumbing my nose at lung cancer”

    what i really want is something like “Enduring lung cancer” but enduring isn’t quite the word i want.

  • gethealthynewjersey

    I am going too!! I am so excited to meet you!!

  • Craig

    “The new face of lung cancer”?

    I went to the Lungevity Hope Summit event and thought it was well worth it. I decided to skip this year, but I recommend it highly. (For anyone else who wishes they could go: Their deadline for signing up has sort of passed, but they might be flexible. Besides, they might have some travel assistance grants left (mainly a free hotel room) so if someone else wants to go but money is tight you might ask them about that.)

    BTW, on an entirely different note, this was a PSA I thought was very tastefully done:

    Best hopes,


  • Shar Weaver

    Craig beat me to the punch, but I was thinking more on

    The Beautiful Face of Lung Cancer”

  • Barbara

    DIagnosis: Lung Cancer

  • Kayla

    “Inspirational Bunny Lover?” 🙂 Just kidding.

    Love Tallie,Digby,&Mom Kayla


    hi Jessica my name is Robin on Bunspace my fur family is Nibbles Chazzi Zia and Steamer KaFoo i want to say i no you dont like the word fighter but you are you are fighting everyday having Cancer is no fun i understand my grandmother had Breast Cancer had to have her right Breast removed and went throoo it all she beat it in 1989to 1991 then in 2009 the cancer came back she went throo the the stuff again lots her hair eye lashes lots her taster smell but throo it all she was a fighter but in Jan 27 2012 at the age of 89 she passed so i do understand i seen what my gram went throo i was there to help her i didnt want to give up to me you are a very Brave women a very Strong women you are a Hero and Angel i want to tell you to keep Fighting keep going on if you ever want to talk i am her i sening you love of love and prayers hugs kisses anf best wishes Oo ooo and for the Calling cards i think BEING STRONG, GONING ON OR BRAVE STRONG GOING ON sounds good and it sound like you Sending Blossom lots of love i hope she doing great

  • stage5cancerblog

    I consider myself to be doing my best to Co-Exist with something that is trying to do us both in. So, I am seeing myself no as in a battle, but in a junior senior partnership trying to keep the junior partner from scuttling the boat. It is more of a benevolent situation with and entity that does not understand what it actions are doing to us. Is that too weird for you?


  • Ed

    Hi Jessica,

    I hope you’re feeling good and that this weekend’s nice weather gives you a chance to enjoy the great outdoors.

    I’ve followed your blog here over the past year, and you have become the heroine of not just your own story, but also for many who seek a cure for lung cancer, those fighting the disease, and those who have lost loved ones.

    So, to me, you’re the Lung Cancer Protagonist. I looked up the word Protagonist in the dictionary and here’s the first three.

    1. the leading character, hero, or heroine of a drama or other literary work.
    2. a proponent for or advocate of a political cause, social program, etc.
    3. the leader or principal person in a movement, cause, etc.

    If this doesn’t describe you, it’s close. You’re someone we can all rally around, and someone who also drives society to find better treatments, and ultimately, a cure.

    I hope no matter what title you select, your quest continues. I look forward to the YouTube video!


  • sharon

    Beautiful people get lung cancer!
    You are a ” Stigma Remover”

    You are such a blessing to be educating others that it is not a disease to be judged. It has always carried a stigma which I believe prevents us from progressing the science.

    love and light to you,

  • Mary Ruggiero

    Here goes my brain storm: Lung cancer patient consultant, coach, advisor, guru, guide, subject matter expert, writer, activist, research subject…

  • Mary Ruggiero

    …forgot “educator”

  • rita nauman

    i do think that “changing the face of Lung Cancer” is a great description. (since being diagnosed with CML i’ve realized how we stereotype diseases and who lives with them) interestingly, however, for a while i was really resentful of the idea that i had “done nothing to deserve this” but eventually i realized that really no one does anything that deserves the kind of diseases we’re talking about. regardless, i think lung cancer has such a stigma that someone like you could really help re-identify it. i just wish you didn’t have to. HUGS.

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