American Lung Association Teams Up with Valerie Harper, Kellie Pickler and CVS Caremark to Launch LUNG FORCE, a Nationwide Initiative to Fight Lung Cancer in Women

(May 13, 2014)

If you didn't know that lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer of women, in America, you're not alone. To change that and tackle this women's health crisis, the American Lung Association, in partnership with national presenting sponsor, CVS Caremark, has unveiled LUNG FORCE, a new initiative to make lung cancer in women a public health priority, drive policy change and increase research funding.

The Realities of Lung Cancer

According to the Lung Association's first Women's Lung Health Barometer, a survey of more than 1,000 American women, women's awareness of lung cancer's impact is terribly low. Despite being the #1 cancer killer of women, the Barometer revealed that only 1 percent of women named lung cancer as a cancer that is top-of-mind for them. The reality is that more than 108,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year and, on average, less than half will be alive next year. The Barometer also showed that 78 percent of women are not aware that lung cancer has killed more women than breast cancer since 1987. The truth is anyone can get lung cancer. In fact, two-thirds of lung cancer cases are in those who have never smoked or have successfully quit smoking. These findings underscore the lack of awareness and the need for LUNG FORCE.

Introducing LUNG FORCE

In its first year, LUNG FORCE seeks to unite women against lung cancer and for lung health, and encourage them to raise their voices for change. Through nationwide efforts, LUNG FORCE will make lung cancer a cause that people care about and act on, educate and empower patients and healthcare providers, and raise critical funds for lung cancer research. As the national presenting sponsor of LUNG FORCE, CVS Caremark will support the initiative with an in-store promotion throughout June, giving customers the opportunity to contribute to LUNG FORCE at checkout at all CVS/pharmacy stores, with all proceeds supporting the movement. Earlier this year, CVS Caremark announced its decision to remove tobacco from its retail stores.

"Together we have to make lung cancer in women a public health priority and change our thinking about this disease. We hope that with increased awareness and education, women will join the fight against lung cancer and for lung health," said Harold Wimmer, National President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Lung Association. "We are proud to introduce LUNG FORCE and honored to have CVS Caremark as a partner in this new movement that unites women to stand together against lung cancer."

Stars Raise Their Voices and Join LUNG FORCE

Joining the LUNG FORCE fight are actress Valerie Harper and country music star, Kellie Pickler. Both have been personally affected by lung cancer. Harper, widely known from television as Rhoda Morgenstern, has recently become a beacon of hope and inspiration for cancer patients. In 2009, Harper was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, and after her tumor was removed, went back to normal life. In 2013, she began to experience strange symptoms that were discovered to be an unusual metastasis of her lung cancer. Given as few as three months to live, Harper decided to set aside the death sentence, work on her treatment and go on living life as fully as possible. More than a year later, she's still hard at work, guest starring on television shows and actively sharing her cancer experience with millions of Americans. Last week, she testified in front of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Aging about cancer and called for an increased investment in cancer research funding.

"I feel fortunate that I have been able to defy the odds of this challenging disease given that my mother died of lung cancer although, like me, she never smoked," said Harper. "I want to make lung cancer a disease that people care about and act on. I am committed to seeing LUNG FORCE succeed in extending and saving women's lives."

When she was only 15, Pickler lost her grandmother to lung cancer, just one day after she was diagnosed. Pickler's grandmother played an important role in her life and continues to serve as an inspiration for her work. On her debut album, Small Town Girl, she included a song called "My Angel" in remembrance of her lost grandmother.

"One of the hardest things I've had to experience was losing my grandmother to lung cancer," said Pickler. "Not only was she a loving, strong, and gracious person, she was also the woman that I called 'mom.' I support LUNG FORCE in hopes that others won't have to lose such amazing women in their lives."

Pickler appears alongside Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, Jewel, in the first LUNG FORCE public service announcement. The PSA calls on women to understand lung cancer's impact, share what they know with others, and join the fight at LUNGFORCE.org.

Turn Turquoise to Support LUNG FORCE

Turquoise is the color of LUNG FORCE. As part of the LUNG FORCE launch, during National Women's Lung Health Week (May 11–17), a "Turquoise Takeover" will turn more than 90 landmarks across the country turquoise—including Niagara Falls (New York) and the Big "G" in Ghirardelli Square (San Francisco). At the same time, more than 50 proclamations by government officials will help recognize the birth of this new public health movement.

Are YOU Ready to Join Lung Force?

Odds are you too have been touched by lung cancer. Are you ready to become a force to be reckoned with? Support LUNG FORCE by visiting LUNGFORCE.org to take the LUNG FORCE pledge. You can turn your social media channels turquoise and use the #LUNGFORCE hashtag when sharing about the movement. Want to get involved locally? You can join a LUNG FORCE Walk in your area to help raise funds for research, advocacy and education.