Launching a Project to Change the Public Perception of Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer Heroes®, CURE® Lung Cancer Heroes® 2021 Essay Book, Volume 2,

By creating a community of survivors, researchers, physicians and clinicians, The White Ribbon Project — under Heidi Nafman-Onda’s direction — has influenced real change.

In October 2020, lung cancer survivors were facing the long-term effects of prolonged lockdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic. Heidi was a member of a Zoom support group. Frustrated by the lack of initiatives by cancer centers in advance of lung cancer awareness month in November, Heidi’s husband made her a large white ribbon made of wood. From that point forward, a grassroots movement was born.

Now there are almost 1,000 white ribbons across the U.S. (39 states), Canada, Europe and the Philippines. By creating a community of survivors, researchers, physicians and clinicians, The White Ribbon Project — under Heidi’s direction — has influenced real change.

Cancer centers are revising the criteria for early lung cancer screening (beyond a history of smoking) and creating media campaigns to raise lung cancer awareness. A podcast was launched — “The Research Evangelist” — that has featured brilliant researchers to help empower and educate the lung cancer community. In addition, The White Ribbon Project community members now have direct access to some of the nation’s leading lung cancer experts through Saturday Zoom meetings.

The project has served as a tool to empower all patients, families and their caregivers in a way that has never before been achieved. We aren’t ashamed anymore. No more waiting for November. The time is now.

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