Never believe you don’t have a voice. Never believe your voice is smaller than anyone else’s. Never settle for status quo and think, “Well, I guess this is just the way things are going to be.” Never. Never. Never.
Thanks to the awesome WTF? community and many other lung cancer advocates, lung cancer now has a direct voice on Stand Up 2 Cancer’s website. Last month, the folks at SU2C asked if I would provide a guest blog post about the importance of advocating lung cancer awareness (not just in November, but year round), my personal connection to lung cancer and why being aware of the nation’s #1 cancer killer (and least funded) is so critical.
Of course, I said, “Hell yes,” (and here is my post: “Just Like My Mom, Your Mom Can Get Lung Cancer Too,” ) but getting here wasn’t easy.
As some of you may know, my last few blog posts about SU2C haven’t been very positive, to say the least, and WTF? and many in the lung cancer community have been at odds with SU2C for several months.
First issue – My video questioning SU2C’s funding model and if/how much funding was directly funneled to lung cancer research.
Second issue – Removing (successfully) the “Smokin’” T-shirts from SU2C’s online store. Huge thanks to Tracy Sestilli of the Beverly Fund who started the initiative and set up a Facebook Group where several of us centralized, hitting Twitter and Facebook big time with messages to SU2C about how the T-shirts did nothing but perpetuate the smoking stigma.
The T-shirts were already sold out, but due to the social media swarm and additional offline correspondence, SU2C agreed not order additional T-shirts!
Third issue – The SU2C Telecast lung cancer bit.
The skit that actors Eric Stonestreet & Jim Parsons performed during the SU2C Telecast did not go over well with many in the lung cancer community, including my mom. So, my mom, Leslie Lehrman, sent an email to SU2C to express her disappointment.
I wrote a blog post about it: My Mom’s Lung Cancer Rant and SU2C’s Response.
I encouraged others to send their thoughts to SU2C as well. They did…and, well, everyone received the same “canned” response that added further fuel to the fire.
I wrote another blog post: SU2C’s APOLOGY to My Mom & the Lung Cancer Community.
Advocates then took to the social media sphere again, saying the apology was insensitive and that they find “no humor” in lung cancer whatsoever.
Nearly two weeks later, Tom Chiodo, Senior VP of the Entertainment Industry Foundation – Stand Up 2 Cancer| iParticipate, posted a personal apology in the comments section of the blog post. Here’s a portion of his response:
“I want to apologize that we offended you and other viewers with the telecast’s lung cancer segment and then with our reply to some of the emails we received. I want to reach out individually to everyone that wrote to us.We take all the feedback we’ve received to heart, and going forward, it will help inform our decision-making process about the content we produce.” – Tom Chiodo
Chiodo also said that SU2C would soon be reaching out to lung cancer advocacy groups to determine the best way the su2c.org website could heighten awareness during November -Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Tom Chiodo, Lauren Clemmons, Digital Coordinator for Stand Up 2 Cancer | Laura Ziskin Productions, and I have been corresponding via email for several weeks to see how we can work together to better communicate the importance of lung cancer awareness and advocacy.
I thank SU2C’s Tom Chiodo and Lauren Clemmons for their willingness to hear us out, following through on their advocacy outreach and providing a tremendous platform for us to collaboratively help educate the masses about today’s lung cancer – a disease that ANYONE can get.
The fact of the matter is, this opportunity wouldn’t have been on the table if it weren’t for the amazing voices and determination of the lung cancer community. We have learned to never settle for status quo. We can’t. We won’t.
Do the same for your cause…with your advocates. Empower your community to mobilize. They will, in turn, continue to empower you…and great things will happen. Share your voice!