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Stairs Help Local Man Recover from Lung Cancer; Sunday He Climbs KC Tower to Raise Awareness

(February 20, 2019) - KANSAS CITY

For more information please contact:

Jill Thompson
[email protected]

Liberty resident Ralph Agee found that stair climbing helped him regain his breath after his battle with lung cancer. This Sunday, about nine years after his diagnosis, he will climb the tallest tower in both Kansas and Missouri in the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb at One Kansas City Place.

In 2009, after an active summer of working on his cabin, Agee went to the doctor for his annual physical. His doctor ordered a routine chest x-ray, which revealed a spot. Subsequent tests showed the spot as well, so they recommended a surgery and a biopsy. While he was still under anesthesia, the doctors tested the tumor. Agee was diagnosed with lung cancer, although he had no symptoms or risk factors for the disease.

“I woke up and found out that it was a malignant tumor and that they had taken the upper left lobe out,” said Agee. “I never had to go through chemotherapy, radiation or anything like that. I am very fortunate they caught it early.”

Much of Agee’s recovery was due to the surgery, although he was short of breath during strenuous activity due to less lung capacity.

“I had to get used to living with less air,” he said.

To help him recover from lung cancer and help him regain his lung capacity, he began working out at Yards Gym. Since it is in a nine-story building, he climbed stairs as a part of his work out.

“I found that when I did the stairs it helped expand my lungs and made me feel better,” he said. “I climbed stairs for about six months.”

Around that time Julia Nigro, a trainer at the Yards Gym, introduced Agee to the Fight For Air Climb. Since stairs were helping Agee and he wanted to help raise awareness for lung cancer, he joined the gym’s team, The Yards Diehards. This year will be his fourth year participating in the event.

“I really like to participate in the Fight For Air Climb, and feel like I am providing support for others and the financial gift will help with research to keep other people from going through the same thing,” said Agee. “I also want to stress that early detection is critical and I am thankful that my doctor, Dr. John Owen, was so on top of it. I encourage everyone to get their regular physicals.”

The Fight For Air Climb is open to individuals, friends and family teams, and corporate teams. Each year, the event attracts hundreds of local residents and people from across the country who race up the stairs of One Kansas City Place (42 floors, 902 steps) to raise awareness and money to fight lung disease. The Fight For Air Climb at One Kansas City Place is presented locally by Empower Retirement.

Registration for the 2019 Fight For Air Climb is currently open online or by calling 913-353-9165.


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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