Durham Woman with Lung Cancer Meets with North Carolina Lawmakers to Advocate for Change

Durham resident Phuong Huynh is a research scientist in a happy marriage with two lovely daughters. She is also living with stage IV lung cancer. This Wednesday, March 17, Huynh will meet with members of Congress to raise awareness about the disease and demand action. 

Through the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative, Huynh 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. 

In 2017, Huynh developed a sporadic dry cough and shortness of breath when she was walking up stairs.  She went to the doctor, and on September 15, 2017, she was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. 

“Lung cancer!? How could this be?” she said when she found out. “I have never smoked even a single cigarette. I live a healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet and regular exercise. I was furious! At the time, I was ignorant to the fact that lung cancer did not care if you were a smoker or not, or if you were healthy or not. I soon discovered that the only criteria for having lung cancer is to have lungs.”

The cancer had spread to her brain, so she began radiation right away. Along with her treatment plan, she established a new regular exercise routine, changed her diet to be mostly plant-based and discovered a new faith.

“Lung cancer is a silent disease; many of us including myself show no symptoms until it is in a late stage,” said Huynh. “Thanks to research, my medical team, family and God, I am here today and stable. I don’t ask for a cure, but I can ask to live with cancer. We need to make lung cancer a more manageable and treatable disease. I truly believe early detection is the key to survival. As a community, we should strive to advocate for more research funding to provide more options for effective treatments and an emphasis on early detection and screening. With sufficient funding, together we can help save 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, Huynh will speak with the offices of Senators Richard Burr and Tom Tillis, and Congressman David Price 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 8,830 people in North Carolina diagnosed with lung cancer and 4,790 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 Huynh 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 North Carolina. 

Huynh encourages others in North Carolina 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.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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