When I learned that lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the United States, but one of the lowest funded for research, it made me angry. In the US alone, this disease kills more than 158,000 people each year, that’s 433 people a day - a number equal to a jumbo jet crashing every day.
Despite the lack of research funding, amazing advances in lung cancer treatments have been made in the last 10 years. Researchers have discovered driver mutations and developed targeted drugs to put the brakes on cancer growth. One of these drugs has kept my stage 4 adenocarcinoma stable for 55 months. They have also discovered that immunotherapy is effective in treating several types of cancer, and have implemented a low-dose CT screening for people who have a history of smoking
I am extremely grateful for the researchers who are dedicated to keeping those of us with lung cancer alive. Progress is being made, but not quickly enough. That’s why I became an advocate.
After my diagnosis, I had to find my new purpose. I initially volunteered at my local American Lung Association office to help generate awareness and donations. But I needed to do more. Many lung cancer patients do not feel well enough, or live long enough to go to Washington D.C. to talk to Senators and Representatives.
I felt like I could use my voice to speak for all those who can’t. I now work with multiple lung cancer organizations, including the Lung Cancer Foundation of America
, and travel to our nation’s capital several times a year to share my story and lobby for more research funding.
On Nov. 2, 2017, a grassroots group of nine survivors and caregivers held a Life and Breath Rally on the Capitol lawn. We are proud that six members of Congress came and spoke, 161 supporters attended and the event drew more than 2,800 views on our live Facebook feed
. When we work together good things happen.
But you don’t have to travel to be heard. Your voice has power and you can use it to make a difference from the comfort of your own home. The easiest way to help only takes a minute: Call your members of Congress. It’s that simple and it’s the only way they will know what we want.
First, find your state’s U.S. Representatives
and Senators’ phone numbers
When you reach a staff member or voicemail, here’s what you can say:
- Hello, my name is ______ from (your location).
- I’m calling today to ask (insert their name) to increase funding for lung cancer research.
- 433 Americans are dying every day from lung cancer and this needs to be addressed as a national emergency.
- Lung cancer research is critical to me and my family because ___________.
- Can I count on (insert name?)
- Thank you.
Then be sure to share this information with to at least three friends and family members and ask them to call as well. Put it on your calendar as a reminder to call once a month and let your voice be heard.
Together we can move the needle toward greater funding to detect lung cancer earlier and to find better treatments. Use the power of your voice!