Young Adult Advocacy Profile: Jill’s Legacy

Young Adults CAN get lung cancer?  HUH?

Meet Darby Anderson, K.C. Oakley and Maggie Eisenberg who lost their dear friend, Jill Costello to lung cancer when she was just 22 years old. Through this loss and the guidance of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, Jill’s Legacy was born.

 

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Maggie Eisenberg, Advisory Board Member, Jill’s Legacy

When I heard it was lung cancer everyone was also saying, ‘Well that seems so strange; Our friend, she’s never smoked… how could Jill have lung cancer?

Darby Anderson, Jill’s Legacy / Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation

She had no symptoms at all.  She had been complaining of a little bit of bloating, a stomachache.  We had been celebrating her finishing NCAA finals just several days before then.  So to have a cancer diagnosis was just totally out of the blue.

K.C. Oakley, Treasurer, Jill’s Legacy

They first assumed it was ovarian cancer because her ovaries were so big; and then assumed it was breast; and then they assumed it was liver; and then they assumed it was lung cancer.  A couple days later they found it was lung cancer but because it is so rare in young women, they didn’t even suspect it at all.

Darby Anderson:

When they actually said they were taking her off of chemotherapy and she’s probably going to pass away in the next couple days, for all of us it was unbelievable- just a huge shock.  It came out of… because I personally, I refused to believe that Jill wasn’t going to make it.  Up until hours before she passed away I refused to think that something like that would happen to one of my best friends.

She was diagnosed at 21 and passed away at 22.

Lung Cancer Facts

Lung Cancer is the Number One Cancer Killer.

It kills more people than breast, prostate, colon, liver, melanoma, and kidney cancers combined.

80 percent of newly diagnosed Lung Cancer patients either never smoked or quit smoking decades ago.

Lung Cancer surpassed breast cancer as the #1 cancer killer of women in 1987.

More than 450 people die a day of Lung Cancer in the U.S. That’s 19 an hour.

Maggie Eisenberg:

Jill made everyone feel like they were the most important person.  You couldn’t help but have an incredible time with her.

Darby Anderson:

The first thing that comes to mind is just how genuine she was.  I remember feeling so uncomfortable and scared coming into a new sorority where I really didn’t know anyone and she was one of the first people that just invited me to come out with her to meet her friends, and she became one of my best friends and all of her friends are still my closest friends.

K.C. Oakley:

Her willingness to step out and especially that first week of college you’re willing to grab onto somebody and for us it worked into this perfect relationship, friendship, that we were inseparable really.

Maggie Eisenberg:

She always had great ideas.  She would… if you didn’t know what to do that day, Jill knew what to do.

Darby Anderson:

Jill really taught me, especially after she was diagnosed, she really taught me to enjoy every single moment that I have with all the people that are around me.  She really taught me that because by the end I could see that that was something that she was really doing.

Lung Cancer Facts

You CAN get Lung Cancer even if you never smoke.

Every three minutes another person is diagnosed with Lung Cancer.

For every nine dollars spent on breast cancer, one dollar is spent on Lung Cancer in the U.S.

The overall survival rate for Lung Cancer is still 15.5%. The same as it was over 40 years ago.

Breast cancer has advanced to an 89% survival rate.

Prostate cancer is now at 99%.

Darby Anderson:

For me, the moment that Jill was diagnosed I started learning a little bit more about lung cancer.  And especially after she passed away I just thought, ‘this is something… I can’t just stand idly by and watch this happen to another sister, to another friend, to another daughter.  And this is something that I really, I want to dedicate the rest of my life to making sure that people know that anyone can get lung cancer; and it can be a 16-year old girl, it can be your grandfather, and really whether a smoker or non-smoker, just to let people take that out of the equation.  These are human beings, these are people with friends and family.  And we need to increase the survival rate being that it is the number one cancer killer and there is no funding.  It’s just something that needs to… it’s criminal.’

The majority of Lung Cancer patients are being diagnosed so late that they will die within one year.

Lung Cancer Facts

In 2009, an estimated 1.5 million new worldwide Lung Cancer cases were expected with a projected 1.35 million deaths.

The under-funding of Lung Cancer research has kept its survival rate as low as it was in 1971.

Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, accounting for 30 percent of all cancer deaths.

Lung cancer is currently the most common cause of cancer death in women, with the death rate more than twice what it was 30 years ago.

Darby Anderson:

Jill’s Legacy is a group of young professionals that all came together in the memory of Jill Costello.

I work full time for Jill’s Legacy as well as the Bonny J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.  Jill’s Legacy is an advisory board to them and it is comprised of 12 members of an executive board that fund research and grants and help the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation raise money and awareness.

K.C. Oakley:

We came together and decided that the youth was where we were going to start; that they were going to be the new demographic that could change the stigma and change the idea of lung cancer as they grow up through the years and become professionals.  So we decided to go to college campuses, throw Jog for Jills, raise awareness and raise research money to give out grants.

Lung Cancer Facts

53 percent of Lung Cancer in women is NOT ATTRIBUTED TO SMOKING.

Lung Cancer will not end or be cured if everyone quit smoking right now.

We do hope, though, that if you do smoke you can find a way to quit.

K.C. Oakley:

Jill was not a smoker and that’s what we need to know, that’s what everyone needs to know is that it is not just a smoker’s disease, it can be your best friend, like it affected me.

Darby Anderson:

Lung cancer and all forms of cancer in young adults, you don’t expect that to happen, but the reality is that it’s happening more and more.

K.C. Oakley:

I think that everyone needs to know that this is a cancer that anyone can get.  Obviously there is a stigma that smoking and lung cancer go hand in hand and obviously, if you are smoking, it causes lots of diseases.

Maggie Eisenberg:

We need to come together and try to change the funding for this disease.

K.C. Oakley:

Lung cancer kills more people than the rest of the 4 main cancer killers and there is an opportunity in this to make a big difference.

Darby Anderson:

As young people, we carry a lot of power and we have the ability to, when we grow up, be the new researchers, the new doctors, the new funders- so that is where the power lies.  And if we start educating and empowering people now it is going to, we are going to create a mobilization that will live on forever.

Maggie Eisenberg:

I am not a researcher, I will never be a researcher, but I know that my friends and I, we can raise funds, we can come together and really make a statement.

K.C. Oakley:

Her last message to us was beat lung cancer, not only for her but for everyone who passes away from this disease.

Maggie Eisenberg:

And if these patients don’t have, can’t be advocates because they’re not around any longer, we can be advocates for them.

END OF VIDEO

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