Nicole with her mom, dad and brother shortly after her mom was diagnosed.

By Nicole Lindgren

My mom was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer at the age of 50. She had a persistent cough that just wouldn’t go away. After a number of false diagnoses and no resolution, a CT scan was ordered which revealed tumors in her lungs.

There were points during her treatment where I thought, “I don’t know how we are going to make it through this.” After the tumors metastasized to her brain, she decided to decline treatment and returned home. Four days later, we lost her.

My family struggled after her passing and learned that there was very little local help for people affected by lung cancer. Luckily, we were able to find Lung Cancer Alliance and got some direction to channel our desire to support others. We began hosting a Shine a Light on Lung Cancer event every November for Lung Cancer Awareness Month. I hosted the event for seven years, but it still didn’t feel like enough. We wanted to do more. That’s when we decided to start Lung Love Run/Walk Portland.

Lung Love Run/Walk Portland is a special day to connect with others to provide the type of positive, community support we all need to fight this disease. It offers an opportunity to share stories and celebrate survivors. I participate because I want to bring more awareness to a disease that tends to be over looked and underfunded, despite being the leading cancer killer.

Nicole with family at Lung Love Run/Walk Portland, walking in honor of her mom.[

I still miss my mom every day, but helping raise awareness through events like Lung Love Run/Walk keeps her spirit alive. It’s rewarding to use my experience to help others in some way. I know she’d be proud.

For those caregivers helping a loved one with lung cancer, my best advice is to seek help. Don’t try to do it alone. Lung Cancer Alliance has a toll-free HelpLine and great support services, like their Phone Buddy program. You can also reach out to your local hospitals for support. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.

My journey has taught me that regardless of how lung cancer touches you, we are all stronger together! So join me on Saturday, June 24th at Laurelhurst Park in Portland, OR as we lift each other up in our fight against this disease!

Join Nicole and others for the Lung Love Run/Walk 5K on June 24th. Register today!