BIRMINGHAM, AL | March 15, 2021
Birmingham resident Laronica Conway lost her mother to lung cancer, so this Wednesday, March 17, she will meet with members of Congress to raise awareness about the disease and demand action.
Through the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative, Conway will join others personally affected by lung cancer to advocate for $46.1 billion in funding at the National Institutes of Health, $10 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, adequate and accessible healthcare.
Conway’s mother was diagnosed with Stage IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer in 2008. The cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, spine and her liver, so she began chemotherapy.
“This was long before there was any major discussion on clinical trials and immunotherapies. The only option for my mom at that time was chemo because her lung cancer was inoperable,” said Conway. “I think what was almost as equally frustrating as the cancer was not knowing that she had it until the late stages. Lung cancer shows no symptoms until the late stages. There are no visible, outward signs that someone has lung cancer; we can't see or touch our lungs.”
Two years later, Conway quit her job to care for her mother full time. She was her caregiver for nine months until she passed away. After that, she dedicated her life to advocate for others. Conway is one of five co-founders of #LCSM (Lung Cancer Social Media) Chat on Twitter. They also have a blog, Facebook page and an entire community of survivors, advocates and family members dedicated to spreading awareness offering support, raising money and removing stigma about lung cancer.
“There are so many new drug therapies that have been developed since my mom was diagnosed in 2008 and there are many more treatment options available to those newly diagnosed,” said Conway. “But that wouldn't be possible without new resources and critical research dollars. I miss my mama more than you can imagine, but I know that I must push forward to do what I can to ensure that others affected by lung cancer have a chance at living happy and fulfilling lives.”
Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Advocacy Day event will be conducted virtually to allow this important message to be heard while also protecting their health and safety of patients and caregivers. On March 17, during the virtual Advocacy Day, Conway will speak with the offices of Senator Shelby and Senator Tuberville, and Congressman Palmer to share her personal experience with lung cancer and explain why investments in public health, research funding and quality and affordable healthcare are important to her.
It is estimated that in 2021 alone, there will be over 4,520 people in Alabama diagnosed with lung cancer and 2,860 will succumb to the disease. But more people than ever are living with lung cancer in part because survivors are sharing their stories and policymakers are taking action in response. That’s why Conway is sharing 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 Alabama.
Conway encourages others in Alabama to advocate for lung cancer research and healthcare protections by contacting their members of Congress. Learn more about her story and the LUNG FORCE initiative at LUNGFORCE.org.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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