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Lung cancer survivor becomes an advocate to help others

Ashley Rivas may not have two full lungs, but that doesn't stop her voice from being loud and strong in the battle against lung cancer.

Rivas, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was one of the 50 LUNG FORCE Heroes that came together at the U.S. Capital in April 2016 for the American Lung Association's inaugural LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day.

Three years ago, at the age of 33, Ashley was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor in her right lung and underwent a brutal surgery to remove the tumor along with the middle and lower lobes of her right lung.

Ashley is now cancer free and sharing her story to give others affected by lung disease a fighting chance.

"It's a very strange feeling to lose such a vital part of your body to a threatening disease and consider yourself lucky, but it's true," Ashely said. "Most people who are diagnosed with lung cancer do not walk away so easy. After many months of counseling and digging deep within myself, I decided that I needed to be a part of something that would help give other lung cancer patients the stroke of luck that I was blessed with."

Since Ashley's diagnosis three years ago, she's become an advocate for the American Lung Association and traveled to Washington, D.C., last year for Advocacy Day. She met with U.S. Congress members to encourage increased federal funding for lung cancer research. Throughout her work, she's met many people with lung disease, including those who had undergone treatments that were developed by money raised through organizations such as the American Lung Association.

"For many the treatments worked," she said. "These stories, these people, these LIVES are why it is so important for me to be an advocate. I was lucky. I need to pay that gift forward and be the voice for the people that are still fighting."

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