New Orleans Woman Advocates for Lung Cancer Research After Losing Mother to the Disease

New Orleans resident Ellen Siedel 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, Siedel 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 2013, Siedel’s mother was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that had metastasized to her lymph nodes and adrenal gland. She was given only six months to live, so Siedel moved closer to home.

“Two days before I moved home, she took a turn for the worse due to complications from the chemo and landed in the hospital. She went into emergency surgery and remained in a coma,” said Siedel. “It was the worst time of my life. I sat, every day, in that hospital, watching her slip away from us. When she woke, she didn't recognize my sister and I, nor did she really have any recollection of what had happened.”

Fortunately, Siedel’s mother’s condition improved. She moved in with her and they resumed normal life for about a year. Her mother was diagnosed shortly after Medicaid expansion was passed in Louisiana, which made it possible for her to access treatment for her cancer. After a year living with lung cancer, her mother’s health declined quickly, and she passed away. 

“There are so many things that she isn't going to be here for - my wedding, watching her grand kids grow up, holding my hand as I give birth, all those things she won't be here for,” she said. “And every day I wish I had more time. More time to laugh, more time to cry, more time to fight, more time to spend with her, hold her, hug her, kiss her.” 

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, Siedel will speak with the offices of Senators John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy 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 3,910 people in Louisiana diagnosed with lung cancer and 2,360 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 Siedel 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 Louisiana 

Siedel encourages others in Louisiana 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

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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