Jennifer Stauss Windrum and her mom, Leslie Lehrman

Jennifer Stauss Windrum and her mom, Leslie Lehrman

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Jennifer Stauss Windrum over the last couple of years. While we are separated geographically, the joys of social media have given us a chance to meet each other virtually.

Jennifer is a communicator, first and foremost. And she’s someone who I’ve grown to admire for her passion and her ability to take a personal tragedy and turn it into a positive movement.

Jennifer’s mother Leslie, like far too many people in this world, has cancer. And right now, her journey is coming towards its end. Leslie was diagnosed with lung cancer. Now when you hear lung cancer, you might say to yourself, “did she smoke?” Which is what many people think of when lung cancer enters the picture.

She didn’t. My dad had lung cancer, and when he was diagnosed, he hadn’t smoked for more than 20 years.

Jennifer’s mom’s diagnosis was bad news. No denying that. But the difference between Jennifer and other people is that she wasn’t willing to shake her head and tut-tut about the injustice of someone getting lung cancer and being stigmatized, or the fact that while lung cancer is the US’s #1 cause of cancer deaths, it receives the smallest amount of research funding.

She started WTF Lung Cancer. You get that, right? And in a cheeky, tireless, sometimes angry, sometimes despairing multi-year project, she’s been advocating for better funding for this disease (remember, 4 out of 5 lung cancer diagnoses are being made in NONSMOKERS now).

My dad was lucky. He was operated on for the lung cancer and lived on for nearly two decades. His impairment was minimal. Jennifer’s mom is not that lucky. To be blunt: she’s dying.

And in one of life’s odd juxtapositions, her mom’s health began to decline VERY quickly  just as Jennifer has launched a giant new campaign. And as she’s managed being a caring daughter WHILE managing a major initiative, I’ve been touched, humbled, and inspired by her honesty, her love, and her dedication.

SMAC Monkey NoMoI’ve donated to a fund and social business that Jennifer started called SMAC! or Sock Monkeys Against Cancer. She wants to provide funky sock monkeys to cancer patients young and old as a symbol of comfort, care and concern. And she wants to bring attention to the plight of people like her mom. And she’d like to see this shitty disease cancer CURED.

If you’re here for a PR lesson, take this as your lesson: if you have a cause, if you have passion, you need to look at how Jennifer has channeled raw emotion into a strategic campaign to achieve a goal. She’s consulted others, she’s asked for help, she’s offered help when she can, and she’s put in the thinking and the work to make one of her dreams become a reality.

And if you learn something from this post or her websites, and you have a few bucks, why not make a donation, the way I did? She’s so close to achieving a major goal. Help her out. You won’t regret it.


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