Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Make sure you check out a post today on sheismore.com. My good friend and former Miss USA 2009, Kristen Dalton is featuring my story and helping raise awareness! Check it out!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cosmopolitan Magazine

To say that I am overwhelmed by the love and support people have shown me over the last few days since I posted the picture of the article that Cosmopolitan Magazine published on my story about being diagnosed with lung cancer while in college is an understatement. I am humbled and honored to be able to share a small piece of my story to such a large audience. Say may think or ask, “Taylor was diagnosed with lung cancer 5.5 years ago… why does she continue to talk about her diagnosis?” Well for me the answer is simple. Those of you who know me and who know me well… know that I have spent a lot of time over the last 5.5 years speaking all across the country trying to advocate for lung cancer awareness and working to break the awful stigma that is associated with the disease. The funding for research lags FAR behind other cancers and the 15.5% STAGNANT survival rate hasn’t changed in 40 years since President Nixon declared the war on cancer in 1971. This to me is inexcusable. So, when I get asked to share my story, I do. Even if it is 5.5 years later. At first, right after my diagnosis, I let lung cancer shape me, it consumed my life and it was extremely draining. However, over these past 5 years I have learned that there is a balance to life and my cancer diagnosis isn't who I am but it will ALWAYS be a part of me. Even though I don’t have lung cancer anymore and pray to God that I never will, the experience of being diagnosed with such a serious illness was frightening but in the say way a very precious gift because it taught me so many things about life that I cherish every day. I believe that as a survivor, as one of the 15.5%, as a young healthy female with my whole life to live… that it is not only my responsibility but that I have been called upon to try and speak up for the 210,000 Americans that will be diagnosed this year alone and for the 160,000 people that will unfortunately pass away from lung cancer this year. I want to take a minute to thank all of the amazing people who have supported me throughout the years, who have been my cheerleaders, the ones who have called when I had a scan, or who were there to support my family when I was in the hospital, the ones who have encouraged me to speak up and to never give up hope. I am forever indebted to you and every call; message, wall post, text, and email do not go unnoticed. I am forever grateful for your love and support. Here’s to another 5 more healthy years!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Text Message....

I just got a text from my godbrother who recently lost his grandmother to breast cancer, and I wanted to share it with yall. Josh said "Not sure if you meant it but in your stuff about lung cancer being forgotten in the last few days, you come off as very... I dont know the best way to put it but the most polite is probably desensitized to breast cancer. I get what you are trying to get across but other might not. It seems very close to, "Forget breast cancer. Thats not even the worst one." Just thought I would let you know so you dont allienate a potential proponent for awareness because they get turned off." I hope you guys dont feel that way. Here's my response, "I'm sorry if it comes across that way and anyone who knows me that I support all types of cancer! I work in cancer care and give every breathing second to cancer in some way. You know I actually admire what the breast cancer movement has done over the past 40 years by increasing survival rates to nearly 98%. But what's unfair is the desensitizing attitude that the general public has done to lung cancer patients. I will be quiet when people stop asking me if I smoked to get lung cancer. Until then it's freedom of speech and everyone who I care about knows my heart and intentions and that I support All types of cancer, including breast cancer." After thinking about it and talking with my sister, I think the honest truth is that I am extremely jealous of what the breast cancer community has been able to do. I am jealous of their survival rates, their funding, the lack of stigma. I am jealous of what their PR campaigns have been able to do. And I hope to one day get Lung Cancer there. So for anyones feelings that I hurt or if I came across harsh or uncaring, for that I am very sorry. I hope everyone knows and understands my heart. They know that I chose to go into cancer care to make a difference for all cancer patients. No cancer is better or more important than one cancer or the other. I do believe though that it is my duty and obligation as one of the 15% to speak up on behalf of everyone who isnt able to speak up. PS... For some reason my blog isnt allowing me to make new paragraphs so as soon as I can figure it out I will fix it!

The White House is "Pink"... What about LUNG CANCER?

The White House is “Pink” this month, but what will they do for Lung Cancer Awareness in November? NOTHING I’M SURE. Do people even know that November is Lung Cancer awareness month? Unfortunately, I doubt it. Sad. Pathetic. Hurtful. Shameful. Stigmatized. Unrecognized. Underfunded. Unimportant to Most. Why? Because everyone thinks that in order to get Lung Cancer you have to smoke, and because you smoke you somehow deserve lung cancer. NO ONE deserves cancer of any kind. Not all smokers get lung cancer and not all lung cancer patients are smokers. Actually 80% of the newly diagnosed are NEVER smokers or former smokers who quit decades ago. ALL cancers deserve the same recognition and awareness that breast cancer gets. We as a society do a disservice to the general public by hyping up breast cancer as much as we do and ignoring all of the other cancers that effect EVERYONE, specifically lung cancer. I’ve said it before but I am going to say it again. Lung Cancer is the NUMBER ONE cancer killer of MEN AND WOMEN in this nation. It kills more people than breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers combined. It is the least funded of all major cancers and the stagnant 15.5% survival rate has remained unchanged for 40 years. 160,000 people will pass away from lung cancer this year alone in the US. For those of you who don’t know there is one person who is doing everything humanly possible to raise awareness for this disease. Kelcey Harrison is running across the UNITED STATES. Who can say they have done that? I would be surprised if anyone can say they have accomplished that task. 30-40 miles a day for 18 weeks straight….. What more could a person do to bring awareness to this horrible horrible cancer?!?!??!! There is NOTHING more she could do. She is giving EVERYTHING possible. So, why hasn’t the national news media picked up this story? Who knows? Is it because of the stigma? Is it because it’s not the “pretty pink cancer”? Is it because Lung Cancer Doesn’t matter to most people? I mean, the girl is RUNNING ACROSS THE UNITED STATES. Why isn’t the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, Ellen, Oprah, Brian Williams, Rock Center begging her to be on their telecast? STIGMA. PERIOD. That’s right folks, we have stigmatized this disease for so long that we have made everyone think that ONLY smokers get lung cancer and that they deserve it and therefore, Lung Cancer isn’t important. Lung Cancer happens to people from all walks of life, Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Children, Siblings, Sorority Sisters, Division I College Athletes, NEVER SMOKERS, NFL Wives, Famous Singers and Actors, the list goes on and on. From the great words of Katie Couric “It’s time to put the blame game aside, and figure out what is really going on”. Please join me in trying to bring much needed awareness to Lung Cancer and brining publicity to the one person who can say they have given everything humanly possible to raise awareness for this dreaded disease by following @thegreatlungrun on twitter. Or by visiting her website or fundraising page at www.thegreatlungrun.com www.Crowdrise.com/thegreatlungrun

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Coach Rock Golf Classic

Cancer is a diagnosis that everyone hopes and prays doesn't strike their family. Unfortunately almost all of us have some personal connection to cancer. The good news is there are roughly 12 million cancer survivors here in America who have beaten this disease and are surviving and thriving. More and more individuals are surviving because of the advancements in medicine and the ability to detect cancer early. None of this would be possible without scientific research and doctors devoting their lives to making a difference and finding better ways to treat this horrible monster.

One of the doctors dedicated to making advancements in cancer medicine is Dr. Paul Walker. I first met Dr. Walker when I started working for a UNC program called Carolina Well located at the ECU Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center in August. One day after he stopped by his thoracic nurse's desk he stopped by mine to introduce himself and I quickly became intrigued by his knowledge, attitude, determination, and dedication to not only his thoracic oncology patients, but his love and dedication to the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center at East Carolina University.

This is evident by the gift that he and his wife Kathy gave to East Carolina University in June of 2010, which was the largest donation a faculty member has ever given to ECU. A portion of this gift was used to create a fund to support innovative clinical trials research here at the LJCC. For several months they were not sure what to name the fund, but in early 2011 they decided they wanted to honor the late Coach Thomas "Rock" Roggeman who fought and battled lymphoma and was treated in Greenville at Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center. The newly named fund is now called "The Coach Rock Roggeman Cancer Research Fund."

For those of you who don't know who Coach Rock was, he was a former Notre Dame football player and an ECU defensive coordinator for the Pirates under the direction of then-head coach Skip Holtz. Coach Rock fought cancer with such courage and determination. And he never gave up the fight.

To honor his fight and legacy, The Leo Jenkins Cancer Center, The Brody School of Medicine Department of Oncology and The East Carolina University Medical & Health Sciences Foundation is hosting the First Annual Coach Rock Roggeman Golf Classic. The event is to be held at Ironwood Country Club on May 20th, 2011.

The support for this event has been tremendous and we are excited to say that Coach Holtz and his wife Jennifer will be coming back to Greenville for the first time since he left to go coach at the University of South Florida. Coach Holtz and Rock had a close relationship and he wanted to be a part of something that will honor Rock and also give back to support cancer research. We are excited to have the support of Skip and his wife Jennifer.

The really cool part about the Coach Rock Cancer Research Fund is that ALL money raised stays right here in Eastern North Carolina. This is unlike many large national organizations that raise money and then we never receive any of the money locally. All funds raised will go a long way in making a difference for our patients here at LJCC. "We here at Leo Jenkins want patients to know that everything that can be done, has been done, is being done, and will always be done. It is our mission and passion in this fight," said Dr. Walker. "With events such as the Coach Rock Golf Classic we are igniting the flame to make a difference for all patients."

You may be wondering how I fit into all of this or why I am writing this blog, but unfortunately cancer hit very close to home for me. I was actually diagnosed with lung cancer two weeks after my 21st birthday. I am also a former Pirate athlete and played when Coach Rock was a coach. The bond that ECU athletes and coaches share, no matter what sport they play, is unbelievable and it's something I will cherish forever.

Growing up it was my dream to play soccer in college. I got that chance when Coach Rob Donnenwirth asked if I would like to come to ECU to play soccer. When I got to ECU, I bonded with my teammates, loved my classes, and met some really awesome friends. The only problem was that I wasn't performing at the level that I needed to on the field. I failed fitness test after fitness test and I was constantly physically exhausted. I had numbness and tingling in my toes and was having some trouble breathing when I exerted myself at a high level. Other than those little symptoms, I felt great!

After several failed attempts to pass the fitness test, pain in my toes, and always being tired, we came to the decision that it might be a good time to run some medical tests to see if we could figure out what was wrong. They found nothing. I convinced myself that I was just burnt out from the game. After a season of frustration and complications, I made the hardest decision of my life: to stop playing soccer. I still had the same symptoms from before when I was exercising but not at the level it had been.

Two years later, in October of 2007, I presented to the emergency room with complaints of a lower abdominal pain where I thought my appendix might be rupturing. They performed an abdominal CT scan where my lungs showed a 3x4cm mass on my left upper lobe. After many doctors' appointments and referrals, it was determined that I had a carcinoid tumor in my left upper lobe. I couldn't believe it...lung cancer in a 21- year-old, never smoking, college athlete. I had surgery to remove my upper lobe and lingula and I am happy to say I am now cancer free.

My story and diagnosis is how I ended up at Leo Jenkins Cancer Center. I immediately became involved in lung cancer advocacy, awareness, and raising money for research. That led from one connection to another and I was hired in August to be the community outreach coordinator for the UNC Carolina Well program. When I was first diagnosed I used to think "why me" now I think "why not me?"

My diagnosis has shaped me into a much stronger person and has given me an avenue to make a difference in people's lives that have to fight this battle as well. It has given me the opportunity to work with amazing people at Leo Jenkins, and the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation. This is something I am proud and honored to say I am a part of. I can honestly say, I never thought that I would be able to tie ECU Athletics and fundraising for clinical trials cancer research into one venture, but with the help and direction of a few dedicated people and the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation we are honoring a coach and funding much needed cancer research.

Coach Rock's distinguished coaching career at ECU touched players and fans alike. The entire Pirate nation knows that he coached with everything that he had, and that is how he fought cancer, too. Please join us in carrying on Coach Rock's legacy and his fight against cancer by supporting the 1st Annual Coach Rock Golf Classic on May 20th at Ironwood County Club. Tournament features a chance to win three cars, two vacations and $10,000. For more information and to register please call Renee Safford-White at 252-744-3070.

I need your help!

Hi Y’all,
At the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center, we are always striving to improve our services to meet patient's needs more effectively—not only with the best medical care, but also the support and resources that give people the courage to keep fighting.
Today, you can help us in our efforts.
We've applied for funding from LIVESTRONG to implement a program proven to support those fighting cancer. And we're excited to let you know that our application has been selected to advance to the final stage — a vote by the broader community. The organizations receiving the most votes within their regions will be awarded funds, materials and training.
Please vote for our program and share it with your family and friends:
Cancer Transitions™ is designed to support, educate and empower people with cancer in the transitional period after treatment is over. The program incorporates support groups, education, nutrition and physical exercise, as well as addressing other medical management, psychosocial and quality of life issues. The program also provides survivors with practical tools and resources to formulate a personal action plan for survivorship beyond their participation in Cancer Transitions.
The deadline to vote is May 31 and we hope you can help us show the support our community has for this program.
Taylor Bell
P.S. Please make sure to forward this email to help spread the word.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation Introduces Jill’s Legacy
Group of young adults takes aim at the world’s #1 cancer killer

San Francisco, CA, March 8, 2011/PRNewsire-USNewswire/—The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF), a worldwide leader in efforts to eliminate Lung Cancer, announced today that they have launched the creation of a new Advisory Board made up of 21 promising young professionals who have each been personally touched by Lung Cancer. The Board has been called “Jill’s Legacy” in memorial of the 22-year-old college student and athlete at U.C. Berkeley, Jillian Costello, who lost her battle with Lung Cancer in June of 2010, just one year after being diagnosed.

What’s this group’s mission? Simple: to be the driving force in significantly increasing the stagnant 15.5% survival rate of the world’s number one cancer killer—Lung Cancer.

BJALCF namesake and Chairman of the Board, Bonnie Addario, believes they are just the people to do it, saying, “I am inspired and extremely hopeful about the message that these incredible young people can send to the world about Lung Cancer. They can unearth the truth about this disease and substantially impact funding for research.”

Echoing Bonnie’s enthusiasm is BJALCF’s President and CEO Scott Santarella, saying, “Our group of young adults is incredibly tech savvy, they have embraced the give-back philosophy and are extremely creative and energetic. I have no doubt they will help us create new initiatives to help Lung Cancer patients and their families.”

With its oldest member just 25-years-old, this Board of empowered young adults is largely made up of Jill’s closest friends and loved ones. Bryce Atkinson, Jill’s long-time boyfriend, will serve on the Executive Committee as President of the Board. Other Executive Committee members include Jessica Morello, Jill’s cousin who will serve as Vice President; Kristina Renda, High School classmate of Jill’s who also lost her father and grandmother to Lung Cancer and will serve as Secretary; K.C. Oakley, Jill’s closest friend at U.C. Berkeley, who will serve as Treasurer; Taylor Bell, a North Carolina-based 24-year-old Lung Cancer survivor herself; Sahil Patel, who lost his mother to the disease and is studying to be a thoracic surgeon in her honor; Darby Anderson, one of Jill’s closest friends who has dedicated her life to the cause; and Elizabeth Button, Jill’s life-long friend who is studying Law in San Francisco.

The Board will also consist of six other committees: Science and Research, “Fun” Raising, Finance, Corporate Sponsorship, Public Awareness and Social Media. Members of each committee are also friends of Jill who want to be part of the elimination of the disease that took their young friend from them too soon.

“Essentially, we want to make a change in the way Lung Cancer is viewed in society and treated in medicine. While other cancers have benefitted from modern science and research and exceeded survival rates of 95%, the survival rate for Lung Cancer hasn’t budged from 15.5% in 40 years. That is unacceptable to us and that’s something we have to change” says Jill’s Legacy Executive Committee member, Kristina Renda.

These young people have all seen first-hand that anyone can get Lung Cancer, not just smokers. Through various educational vehicles and fund-raising efforts, they are out to spread the word.

“They say that wisdom comes with age. I think in this age of information technology, wisdom comes quicker for the younger generations and it comes without past prejudice,” says Sheila Von Driska, BJALCF Executive Director, “The members of Jill’s Legacy have no patience or time for a stigma that has kept Lung Cancer in the shadows for over 40 years. I believe Jill’s Legacy is revolutionizing the way society views Lung Cancer and because of them, we’re going to witness a rapid intelligent change in the survival rate of Lung Cancer.”

For more information, or to invest in Jill’s Legacy, email Darby Anderson, Jill’s Legacy/Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation or call 949-293-2093.


Jill’s Legacy Advisory Board Members (as of March 8, 2011)

Bryce Atkinson, President
Jessica Morello, Vice President
Kristina Renda, Secretary
K.C. Oakley, Treasurer

Darby Anderson
Gabriel Baumgaertner
Erica Bellis
Taylor Bell
Elizabeth Button
Maggie Eisenberg
Nathan Floyd
Emily Frumberg
Kelcey Harrison
Mihir Kshirsagar
Danielle Michelsen
Siobhan Murphy
Sahil Patel
Alli Paver
Angela Strohbeck
Gianna Toboni
Adeeti Ullal