Melissa recalls how she struggled to find resources about lung cancer.
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Michelle: This website just, you are launching it next week. It took you a month to, to develop it. I won’t tell you how long it took to develop EmpowHer, a lot longer than a month. But it’s, it’s so fabulous that you are doing this because it’s a resource for women and I would imagine that in your experience, and I don’t want to speak for you. So I want you to share, what was it like as you were trying to find the resources that you needed as you were going through this? Melissa: As I was going through—looking for information for myself it, it was very confusing. There are so many resources out there and there are so many different ‘salesy’ types of organizations. You really have to filter through what information is good, what information is bad, what is most up-to-date statistics, what statistics are conflicting with, you know, this, so filtering through all that stuff is just a nightmare and especially when you have information being sent by loved ones. They mean well. They want to send you information that they think is the most up-to-date. It’s just, you know, it’s really difficult. And you also want to be careful because there’s a lot of information that maybe isn’t so positive and you, I don’t know, you just have to really go with blinders almost and try to find the information that is relative to you, that’s from a credible source like the American Cancer Society. Michelle: Right, did you find that there was gender-specific information for women specifically who are diagnosed with lung cancer? Melissa: Not really. No, not really. In all the message boards and statistics that I saw most of it was kind of lumped together and, you know, the strange thing is that there wasn’t really so much an emphasis on lung cancer. A lot of the hype is around breast cancer and skin cancer because that’s what most of us hear about, right? But what people don’t know is that lung cancer is actually the deadliest form of cancer. So I think that’s something that’s, you know, really important that people need to know about because there is no screening for lung cancer. Many times, 90 percent of the time it’s found too late. Michelle: Right, and there are I guess now they have, there are tests that you can do ahead of time like CT scans to see, and I guess MRIs, as well, to see if there’s any cancer activity in the lungs before it spreads. But we know it’s the number two killer in women, but most women don’t know that. Most people don’t know that and it can be in your body for a long period of time. So it’s, it’s interesting the gender-specific part of this has not really surfaced and that was one of the things that I picked up through my own experiences that we needed to get this information into the hands of women so that they could be armed and prepared. And so what you are doing is just helping not only in, are you arming yourself, but now you can take all that knowledge and wisdom and you can help in arming other woman, which is what you are doing with your blog. Melissa: Right, and the thing is that there’s a lot of women out there that are afraid to ask the right questions and fortunately when I was diagnosed I had a mentor, somebody that came in and right from the get-go they had suggested, you’ve got to make sure that you’re your own health advocate. You’ve got to ask the right questions. Don’t be afraid because if you don’t you’re just going to be lost in the healthcare system. Make sure that you have a voice because otherwise you are not going to get the right treatment and you are not going to get the best treatment that you deserve. So throughout this entire process I always made sure that I had a caregiver that could speak for me if I wasn’t able to speak or, you know, I was in a state of mind where I could ask the right questions because a lot of times the doctors, you know, they are rushing through. They don’t have time to always address every little thing. So you just, you have to have that voice. Michelle: Good, i