Posted by: Teri Simon | 2012/07/22

It’s Better Together

Good evening, my friends.  I am dedicating this evening’s post to the sweet memory of fellow lung cancer patient, Rita Volinek, who passed away two days ago, and to her fabulous family who loved her so very much and are still reeling not only from her diagnosis only last December, but this sudden loss.  I also dedicate this missive to Katie Brown, of the LUNGevity Foundation, who put us together, Rita and me, as Lifeline partners, a way for lung cancer patients to not have to “go it alone,” but have support from others who understand the walk they’re walking, even if it’s just via phone or email. 

It’s really better together.  That’s pretty much a true statement, I think, in so many of life’s situations.  Scary things like the monster storm that hit my house a few days ago, literally rocking me out of bed, and causing the cable and Internet to go off line, the demise of two television sets and a refrigerator, and a short in my upstairs air conditioning unit.  I was sound asleep when the lighting struck, and home alone, until about 15 minutes after the hit, when Emily returned home.  I wasn’t scared, actually, but having her in the house definitely gave me a feeling of security, you know?  Like I wasn’t all alone and if anything worse happened, I’d be screwed.  She was with me.  Better together.
Better together in happy things, too, like celebrations and momentous occasions, and birthdays, and doing fun stuff.  Better together in challenging situations, like trying to figure out the solution to a problem, or doing research, or doing something to make the world a better place.  Yes, there is a time and place where it is most appropriate to go it alone, to have that pensive, quiet time, to be private, but much of life is better spent in the company of others, with their hearts and souls and input and support.

In the case of dealing with Lung Junk, or any other kind of cancer or illness or long-term challenge, I can tell you from all kinds of experience, that feeling alone in it, well, that sucks. The good news is that, unless that’s the route you choose (Alert:  NOT RECOMMENDED!), you don’t have to go it alone.  Honest.  Granted, trying to find support can be a daunting task, and often you have not a clue as to where to look, but I’m here to help this evening, at least for those of you dealing with cancer.

The Cancer Support Community  is an international organization that encompasses entities you might be familiar with:  Gilda’s Clubs and The Wellness Community, providing FREE support, information, workshops, support groups, and information in a wide variety of locations around the globe.  No, there aren’t groups in every city or even every state or country, but in many areas, there’s all kinds of good stuff to be had.  In Nashville, we’re blessed to have Gilda’s Club Nashville, of which I am a very proud member of a Wellness Group, a group of us cancer patients/survivors that meets weekly to share information and life and loss and stuff.  Better together.  Much, much better.

But what to do if you’re in a place where there isn’t a Gilda’s Club or a Wellness Community?  If you’re dealing with lung cancer, check out the LUNGevity Foundation.  In particular, the LUNGevity Lifeline, which pairs up patients with other patients or survivors of lung cancer, as Katie did for Rita and me.  Also on that page, you’ll see resources for caregivers of lung cancer patients.  Caregivers so very often feel left out of the loop, and LUNGevity offers up support for those important people, too!

The American Cancer Society also offers up some information on how to get support for your situation.  I can’t vouch for how great this information is, because I’ve never used it, but I know it is there, and I feel good providing you the link.

It’s wise, too, when you’ve been diagnosed with something, Lung Junk or otherwise, to have a chat with either your doctor or a nurse or provider in the office, and ask about what kinds of support services might be available to you.  Pretty much every major disease, illness, or injury type has a foundation or two out there, and support is often part of the mix.  You have to know they exist, though.  Then again, and this is important, I’ve been in the presence of local oncologists who never heard of Gilda’s Club Nashville.  So, yeah, it’s REEEEEEALLY possible that the providers haven’t got a clue as to what’s out there to help and support you, and you’re gonna get stuck trying to do that research yourself.  A tip:  be careful online when looking for things to help you.  A lot of misinformation or misleading information is on the web.  Sometimes the better way to find your support is by word of mouth, at your place of worship, your job, or school.  Often, someone knows of someone who is dealing with the same thing as you, and just by mentioning your need for support, it suddenly springs to the person’s mind, and you get connected.  It may come down to you needing to be proactive and really putting it out there that you have a need for some support.  I’m saying, don’t be afraid to do that.  Remember:  it’s better together.  Much much better.  Honest.

Cancer is hard and scary and daunting and all kinds of tough stuff.  Going it alone?  That’s major suckage on top of major suckage, if you ask me.  It’s better together.  Really it is.

So I leave you this evening with this Flying Elephant promise:  as long as I’m here, you’re not alone.  Seriously.  If you need help getting connected with the support you need, get in touch with me:, and I will help you connect.  It’s in my training (social worker), it’s in my life, and it’s in my heart.  Even if you’re not dealing with lung junk or cancer; I’m pretty good at getting people where they need to be for support.  Don’t hesitate to ask for help, not from me, anyway.  We’re in this life together.  And it’s better that way.  Together.

Wishing you a week of not feeling alone,

Teri, The Flying Elephant

P.S.  I’m asking for YOUR support and good wishes and prayers this week, as my oldest child, Emily, heads to California to begin her studies to become a doctor!  She’s embarking on a master’s degree program which will lead her into medical school, and I’m so proud of her I could pretty much burst!  She’s earned this, and with a full heart I send her to pursue her dreams.  Thanks for joining me in sending her off with the best!




  1. Catherine,
    Thanks for sharing the facingcancer website. You prompted me to add a few more tools to my Cancer Care tab on my website! And thanks for the good wishes for my daughter; new adventures await! Best to you!

  2. Feeling alone in a cancer diagnosis and the chaos does totally suck – yet I hear so often from women saying that they feel separated from their support group because those giving care haven’t directly navigated the cancer road. That’s why online support is so awesome. While we can’t make dinner or run errands – we have been there with cancer, and can be here for one another. It really is better together. You’ve got that bang-on right.

    Good luck to your daughter, and thanks for sharing this post!


  3. Patrick,
    I just spent some time looking at your blogspot. You are a remarkable person, and your family must be something really special! Congratulations on your recent excellent news! I hope you find folks to “run” with, and if there’s any way I can help plug you in to places to continue to support you, don’t hesitate to ask. So happy to know you and a little bit of your story! 🙂

  4. Visiting with you is to learn, thank you.

  5. As always, I am amazed at how awesome you are! This, as all of your blogs, is perfect and what I need to hear…….sometimes I shut people out simply because I do not want to be a burden or ask anyone for help. I will be thinking of you as you send Emily off – my prayers and love go with her and with you as she leaves. Have a most blessed week!!


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