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Debbie Eversole

Although she's fighting lung cancer, Debbie Eversole coordinated a benefit this fall – not for herself, but for the American Lung Association, raising nearly $3,000 for lung cancer research. The event, hosted by Debbie and her husband, Steve, began with a poker run; followed by food, speakers, live music and a silent auction at the Moose Lodge pavilion. "I want nothing out of this," she said. "I just want to feel good about myself by starting the first benefit in Danville (for the association)."

Eversole was diagnosed with lung cancer on June 11, and was told that surgery was not an option. She has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments. 

She first realized something was wrong when she started coughing up blood, and a chest X-ray found a tumor. During the biopsy, the tumor burst and spread to her lymph nodes and esophagus. She also has emphysema in both lungs. Referring to lung cancer, she said, "It's an invisible disease that can't be detected until there are symptoms, and then it's too late."

Both of Eversole's parents, who smoked, died of lung cancer, as did her uncle, who hadn't smoked in 30-plus years. Eversole has smoked for 40 years. And while smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, approximately 20% of those diagnosed with lung cancer this year have never smoked. Her own experience aside, she said it's important that more money goes toward research. "More research into causes and treatment is needed. Lung cancer has touched nearly everybody at one time," says Eversole. "Everybody knows someone who's passed away from it."

"We're so appreciative," said Lori Younker, director of program services at the American Lung Association's Illinois chapter in Springfield. "Debbie has been wonderful. She wants to make a difference as she continues her fight. Hopefully she'll be an inspiration to others. She's thinking ahead."

Funding for lung cancer research at the federal level has been minimal, said Younker, adding, "At the American Lung Association, we are committed to shining the light on lung cancer and lung cancer research. Our vision is a world free of lung disease."

For more information on lung cancer or smoking cessation, call the American Lung Association Lung Helpline, toll-free, at 1-800-LUNG-USA.

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