Laura’s personal connection to lung health started at a young age. “When I was 6, my grandfather died of lung cancer,” she told viewers during the American Lung Association’s #Act4Impact Telethon. “I remember him coughing so incredibly thin. I was young, I barely understood what was happening. The doctor actually told him – no joke – he could clear his lungs by smoking a cigarette.”
Laura’s story is a familiar tale to many of us. For years, the health impacts of smoking cigarettes was buried by Big Tobacco and not fully understood. By the time the American Lung Association exposed the lies we had all been told, millions of Americans were addicted to tobacco.
“A few years ago, I had the privilege of playing author Cheryl Strayed’s mom in the film adaptation of Cheryl’s book Wild. Cheryl’s mother Bobbi also died of lung cancer. And in doing research for the role, I discovered that lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer among women,” Laura remembers. “I want to ensure that no one ever has to lose a loved one from lung disease. And that’s when I started working with the American Lung Association.”
Laura helped the American Lung Association raise awareness about lung cancer as we launched our LUNG FORCE initiative in 2014. She, along with family friend Valerie Harper, were part of our launch, sharing their personal stories and connection. Sadly, Valerie passed away from lung cancer in 2019, which reinvigorated Laura to continue her work with our organization. In 2020, she doubled-down on her commitment when the lung disease COVID-19 stopped the world in its tracks.
Through our COVID-19 Action Initiative, Laura helped us raise funds for COVID-19 research and raise awareness about the health inequities that COVID-19 exposed. During our telethon benefiting the COVID-19 Action Initiative, Laura reminded viewers that “the Lung Association is now bringing their century-plus of experience combatting lung disease to bear on COVID-19. While this disease doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, black or white, some people are more likely to come in contact with it and are more likely to die from it. Its toll on communities of color has been disproportionately horrific.”
During that telethon, Laura also shared her enhanced partnership with the Lung Association as an Advisor to our National Board of Directors. We are so grateful for Laura’s commitment to lung health and her continued partnership over the years.
Blog last updated: August 21, 2023