After losing my mother to lung cancer in 2010, I had been looking for ways to help raise awareness for the disease and educate people that lung cancer is not just a “smoker’s disease.” My mother's efforts at raising awareness were very important to her and I wanted to honor her life and efforts by continuing that community outreach.
After participating in Breathe Deep Nashville in 2012, I indicated in a post-race survey that I would be interested in helping out the following year. One of the coordinators reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to join the planning committee and I’ve been involved ever since. This past November was my 4th Breathe Deep Nashville to help plan.
We usually start working on our November event in March or April, so there is obviously a lot that goes into putting together an event like this. The reward for me after all that is honoring the same group of survivors year after year knowing that we are helping to fund a Foundation that supports them in ways no other lung cancer focused organization does. We are lengthening lives through early detection and focused therapies. We are providing survivors and their caregivers with the support and resources they need. We are making a difference.
We are very fortunate in Nashville to have an amazing group of doctors at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center working on research and treatments to help end this disease. I choose to continue volunteering my time for the LUNGevity Foundation because some of the funds we raise come directly back to Nashville. Dr. Jonathan Lehman was a recipient of the LUNGevity Career Development Award in 2016. Through that grant I can see our fundraising efforts impacting his amazing research.
I hope our fundraising efforts will help us to realize a world where no one dies from lung cancer: a world where no one has to lose their mother too early like I did.
Ryan is pictured sixth from the left. The theme of Breathe Deep Nashville is "Stache and Lash" so participants grow or wear fake mustaches and false eyelashes to add creativity and laughter to event day!