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Local Lung Cancer Advocate Fights for Research Funding, Quality Healthcare in Washington D.C.

(April 10, 2019) -

For more information please contact:

James Martinez
[email protected]
(312) 445-2501

South Dakota resident and lung cancer advocate Darcy Ellefson traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with her members of Congress to demand action. Through the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative, Ellefson stood alongside others personally affected by lung cancer to advocate for biomedical research funding and to ask Congress to protect affordable, adequate and accessible healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions, including lung cancer.

During Advocacy Day, Ellefson met with Senator John Thune, Rep. Dusty Johnson staff and Senator Mike Rounds Staff to share her personal experience with lung cancer and explain why lung cancer research funding and healthcare protections for those with pre-existing conditions is important to her. She lost her mother-in-law and sister-in-law to lung cancer. Since her mother-in-law was diagnosed at stage 4, she passed away just two months after her diagnosis. Ellefson is also participating because of her work as a respiratory therapist in pulmonary rehabilitation and as a tobacco-free advocate. Every day, she works with patients who have a history of lung cancer and she mourns every time she loses a patient to the disease.

“This fight is personal to me. A united effort, a greater FORCE, must rise to the challenges of lung cancer. I refuse to sit idle while more people die, while more grandchildren lose grandparents, while those I love succumb. I joined LUNG FORCE in hopes of more effective treatments, advances in earlier detection, and ultimately prevention of the disease for future generations,” she said.

There will be are more than 580 people in South Dakota diagnosed with lung cancer and 410 will succumb to the disease in 2019. It’s important to Ellefson to share her story with lawmakers and others so that more can be done to help lung cancer patients and their caregivers throughout the United States and in South Dakota.

Ellefson encourages others in South Dakota to advocate for lung cancer research and healthcare coverage for people with pre-existing conditions by contacting their members of Congress. Learn more about her story and the LUNG FORCE initiative at


About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:

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