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Chattanooga Hero Visits Capitol Hill to Advocate for Robust Lung Cancer Research Funding, And Quality Health Care for Lung Cancer Patients

(April 7, 2017) -

Chattanooga - (April 7, 2017) — Soddy Daisy resident Heather Jenkins traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with members of the U.S. Congress and advocate for continued investments in research at the National Institutes of Health and quality and affordable healthcare for those living with lung cancer. 

Every year, 224,000 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer.  Only 16 percent are diagnosed at an early stage when more treatment options are available. Lung cancer, the #1 cancer killer of women and men.

Through the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative,  Heather stood alongside other LUNG FORCE Heroes - those who have been personally affected by lung cancer - to make their voices heard so that more lives are saved.

During Advocacy Day, she shared her personal experience with lung cancer and explained why patients need quality, affordable healthcare and why now is the time to build on advances in cancer research if we want to defeat lung cancer. 

Heather was able to meet directly with Congressman Chuck Fleishman (3rd District) and with the staffs of Senator Bob Corker, Senator Lamar Alexander, and Congressman Jim Cooper (5th District), sharing her cancer story.

Sharing the message that she took to Capitol Hill:

“I was one of the lucky ones,” she said.  “I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Small Cell Lung Cancer in January of 2015 and have been cancer free for a little over 2 years now. However, I am one of the lucky ones because of early detection. I also had access to top notch health care where there was no delay in testing in regards to Pet scans or CT scans. I had access to the best Pulmonary specialist and Thoracic surgeons in Chattanooga and follow up care.”

“The fact that some of these women do not have access to quality health care is unacceptable -- which is why I will continue to fight for them. I will continue to fight for funding for the NIH so, we can continue to carry on the much needed research for new drugs that will one day save lives,” she continued.

She explained that cancer has touched her life in so many ways with her own diagnosis, the death of her mother-n-law from cancer, the diagnosis of her father-n-law's cancer, and the diagnosis of countless friends’ with many of them passing from cancer. 

She feels that as a survivor, she has an obligation to advocate for Lung Cancer awareness. As a survivor, she has a duty to erase the stigma that it is only a smoker's disease and as a survivor, she has a responsibility to fight for those that cannot fight for themselves!

When asked about her experience at Advocacy Day, she summed it up with "WOW!" 

“I have never been around such an inspiring group of women. These women have been through so much, but yet they are persevering and are joining in the fight to advocate for lung cancer research, healthcare and funding for the NIH.”

“I was not only amazed at these women, but was very humbled to even be in the company of so many of these strong and astonishing ladies. There were so many times where I would listen to their personal stories of their battles with the disease and I was filled with so much hope, but also despair! For as many stories as I heard of survival there were as many or more stories of the loss of so many loved ones.”

“This is what gave me the courage to stand with my fellow LUNG FORCE friends on Wednesday on Capitol Hill and advocate for Lung Cancer Awareness. To get out of my comfort zone and fight for all of those who were fighting with me to fight for those who have lost their lives and to fight for those who may face this terrible disease in the future.


Heather encourages others in Tennessee to advocate for lung cancer research and healthcare coverage for people with lung cancer by contacting their members of Congress. Learn more about Heather’s story HERE and for the LUNG FORCE initiative, visit

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