GROTON -- When Groton resident Megan Elliot lost her mother to lung cancer in March of 2011, she felt helpless.
Elliot felt that way because there was nothing the doctors could do to save her mother. That's when she found out about the LUNGevity Foundation, which is based in Boston. It helps raise funds to find a cure for those stricken with lung cancer.
"It is so crazy how fast it hits," Elliot said of lung cancer. "She was 59 and healthy. We were planning a cruise and just one morning she went from being completely fine to not fine. It could've been there for a long time, but there were no side effects. It is so crazy how fast it hit us. We were not expecting it at all. We never thought it was lung cancer."
This year's LUNGevity walk will be held on Saturday, Nov. 2, in Boston.
"She passed away in March of 2011, and I started to go online and Googling different lung cancer things," Elliot said. "You see a ton of stuff for breast cancer and all other things, but with lung cancer, I wasn't really finding much. I finally found this one, and we walked for the first time in November of 2011."
Eighteen strong joined Elliot and her younger brother, Dan Campbell Jr., in the team's first ever walk. As of Monday, Elliot's LUNGevity Walk team has 19 confirmed registrants with an additional 19 to 20 who have committed to walk but haven't signed up yet.
"We are probably going to have around 40 members," Elliot said. "So far to date, we have raised about $700. On average we have had between $1,500-2,500 in the last two years we have walked. My goal for this year's team is $2,500. Hopefully, we will get close to that, if not past that."
The LUNGevity Foundation has sponsored the walk in Boston for the last nine years. It is something that gives Elliot and her team a sense of accomplishment.
When Elliot's mother died of lung cancer in March of 2011, it was not the first time a member of her family had passed away due to lung cancer.
"Both my grandfather and my cousin passed away from lung cancer," she said. "My cousin died like 12 years ago, and she was 33. My grandfather was older and that was about 27 years ago, when they didn't have much in terms of research.
Even now, my mom was diagnosed in January of 2011, it was so advanced they couldn't do any treatment."
The main challenge doctors face with lung cancer is detecting it early. There is research readily available on lung cancer, but the signs can often be confused for less fatal diseases.
"She had no signs of being sick," Elliot said. "It was a huge shock when they told us. She had always been afraid of lung cancer in our family. We didn't even get to the point of being able to try anything. She was so weak from the strokes the lung cancer causes that we took her home from hospice and she died within the first month."
A common misnomer about lung cancer is that only smokers can contract the disease.
"It can hit everybody," Elliot said. "No one knows. We couldn't do anything to stop it. The first year it was really hard to walk because it was a few months after she passed away. We had 18-20 people then. It felt great, but at the same time, I was like 'I can't believe that we have to do this.'"
Come this Nov. 2, it will be a very special day for Elliot and her team of walkers. Elliot's father will be able to participate in the walk for the first time.
"He was sick the last two years during this process," Elliot said. "He wanted to, but he just wasn't physically able to. Last year he'd just had a liver transplant. They would've been married for 29 years this year. He is excited to do it."
Elliot is still accepting members to walk with her team. To register and walk with Elliot and her team, contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who are unable to walk but want to make a donation are asked to contact Elliot at the aforementioned e-mail address.