Posted on October 22, 2016
As you can imagine, my life feels very surreal. My biggest dream came true this year when I got a chance to compete on Season 33 of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X. It was a family dream, something I almost got to do with my mom when we came close to being cast on the show together just over two years ago. At the time, my mom was the healthiest woman I knew. At 58 years old, she would have been the 3rd oldest woman in Survivor history, but she not only was physically cleared for the game, she was in incredible shape and would have run circles around me on the show. We didn't get on that year, but my family was confident that one day, it would happen.
Fast forward to one year ago. My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in August, creating the single greatest nightmare of all of our lives. My mom was always full of life, full of passion, and full of love, and she inspired others, myself included, to do the same. Even after she was diagnosed, she encouraged me to apply again to Survivor. At the time, it was hard for me to think about something like Survivor when our lives had just taken such a serious turn, but if my mom was going to keep living at 100%, I was going to follow her lead. I applied, and this time, after months of interviews, I got on.
I've now watched 5 episodes of myself on the show we loved as a family, the show that I talked about with my mom every week since I was 9 years old. Watching without her by our side on the couch is more devastating than anything I've ever experienced. And yet, the love and support from everyone who has donated to this campaign, who has been through a similar pain, and who shares our desire to end the nightmare of lung cancer for other families, has kept our family grounded, focused, and optimistic.
Including offline donations, we have now raised over $30,000 from over 300 people, with plans to raise significantly more. We have met with nonprofits focused on lung cancer research including Stand Up 2 Cancer and the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, and are getting close to announcing a partnership and directing all of the funds from this campaign to research. The more this campaign raises, the more we will be able to do in partnership with a large and effective nonprofit.
Thank you for your continued support, your donations, and your love.
ALSO: I am going to add some links to videos of me on Survivor that tell my mom's story. If you are inspired, please share the links to this campaign (www.youcaring.com/SusieKlein
), to these videos, or whatever speaks to you. The more people talk about this disease and this campaign, the more we can accomplish together.Finding my tribe's hidden immunity idol in episode 4 and dedicating it to my momSharing my mom's story the day before the game beganHow my mom pushed me towards my hidden immunity idolWhat Survivor means to my family