Hello there …. my name is Alisa Brenes and I am a 16-year Stage 3 lung cancer survivor.
I guess you can say my lung cancer journey started before I was born. My mom, my maternal grandfather and many of his siblings all died of lung cancer. I am motivated to do my part to end our family history now.
I have been a lung cancer advocate for over ten years, most of my work behind the scenes, but little by little I’m coming out and sharing my story. I hope to follow this introduction with more blogs, sharing hope and spreading awareness.
I was diagnosed in July of 2000, just a few months after my mom passed away from lung cancer. It still boggles my mind that I was taking care of my mother while the same cancer was growing inside my lung. I had a third of my lung removed and followed up with chemotherapy.
I am a single mother of twin boys who were 10 years old at the time. They were in fourth grade and I didn’t even know if I would be there for their elementary school graduation. Thanks to God and my amazing doctors, I lived to see my twins graduate from college. My next goal is to see them happily employed
I was diagnosed before social media and message boards were around, the world wide web was fairly new and there wasn’t even google yet. I felt lost and had never met another lung cancer survivor. Within a few months the internet started becoming more popular and all that changed. Somehow (thank you Universe!) I found Katie Brown’s original message board and through that I not only connected with other Survivors, but I was introduced to the first Walk for a Cure (now called Breathe Deep NYC) and have been volunteering ever since. And if that wasn’t enough to keep me hopeful and connected (and it was …) I was introduced by Katie and LUNGevity to Hope Summit! If anyone wants to know what it is like to be in a room with hundreds of survivors (but no one ever gets lost in the crowd, somehow we end up like one big family) just come to Hope Summit. The energy is amazing and you leave the Summit with life-changing knowledge, friendships and Hope.
This is not a journey I chose or one that I would wish on others, but the truth is I've grown so much through this and have such an appreciation of every day and the friends I now call family that I've met through lung cancer have enriched my life beyond words! As strange as it might sound to some, I can actually say that my cancer diagnosis brought me many blessings.
It is my desire to share hope and friendship with other survivors and help spread awareness so one day we will live in a world where no one dies of lung cancer.