Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili

Adversity: Mother, Beverly, died of lung cancer

Advocacy: Co-founded The Beverly Fund to raise awareness of lung cancer

“It’s uplifting to help others see potential in their situation and it’s inspiring to see collaboration tackle the biggest causes.”

Tracy Sestili’s initial reaction after her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer was to gather as much information as possible about the disease. That was some years ago, however, whenand there was little information available to the public. “Now there is a plethora of information, but in 2004 there was nothing except what the American Cancer Society and NIH had,” she says. “I had to read through pages and pages of information that wasstuff in medical-ese which made it very hard to discern which steps to take next and which questions to ask the doctors. and it was very hard getting the diagnosis and figuring out what was happening.” So in the summer of 2005, Tracy made a promise to her mother. “My brother and I had gone through so much to get the correct information and understand what herthe treatment options were, and I really didn’t want other people to go through this process. So I told her, ‘We’re going to start a foundation and Iwe think we’ll name it after you.’ ”

The Beverly Fund (www.beverlyfund.org) focuses on awareness and education, including prevention, says Tracy, CEO and director of the organization. “We get questions sometimes all the time from people asking what they should do,” she says. “When I’m answering some of the emails I just advise people on what I would do if I were in their situation, when I’m answering some of the emails, in my opinion this is what I would do. For example, Gget a second opinion, ask these questions, and . Yes,by all means don’t put off visiting your sick family member if you live far away.” Tracy also offers advice to those looking to join her in advocacy. “When I bring in a volunteer that is dealing with lung cancer, or has dealt with it in the past, I say, ‘Whatever you can do, whatever you feel like you want to do to make an impact — ,every little bit counts’” she says. “No matter what the cause is, I think people are grateful to have advocates just to talk about it and get the word out.” More recently, Tracy co-founded the Lung Cancer Action Network (www.lungcan.org), a collaboration of more than two dozen lung cancer advocacy groups joining forces to raise awareness and funding for research. “As I started doing the advocacy work, I realized if we all work together we could start to make advancement ion a disease that’s been stagnant for 50 years,” Tracy says. “It’s always been about getting everyone to work together – there’s strength in numbers. We can make more of an impact on any disease if we work together. After all, anyone can get lung cancer, and everyone can help.”

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January 27, 2014

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