ATLANTA, GA | March 17, 2021
Decatur resident La’Kesha Johnson is a mother who fought for her life after a lung cancer diagnosis, surgery and a stroke. Today, Johnson will meet with members of Congress to raise awareness about the disease and demand action.
Through the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative, Johnson 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 2014, while having a chest CT scan for a non-related issue, a nodule was detected on Johnson’s right lung. After a follow-up CT scan confirmed the nodule, surgery was highly recommended. Based on the second scan, the radiologist was concerned about the increase in size of the nodule in the short 2.5 months from the initial scan.
“After receiving the diagnosis from the second scan, I immediately became frightened,” said Johnson. “However, I knew that I had to trust in God and hold strong to my faith. I was told repeatedly to not worry as I am a non-smoker. At the time I had no idea that two-thirds of those who die from lung cancer are former smokers or non-smokers. Knowing that I was the mother of a five-year-old, I knew that I had to be prayerful and strong for her through whatever would come my way. Therefore, I made a conscience decision to not stress about my upcoming surgery and the results.”
On February 5, 2015, the nodule was removed. On Friday, February 13, I learned that the nodule was malignant. It was stage 1A and the cancer was removed and did not spread, but that was not the end of Johnson’s health challenges. The day after the surgery, she suffered a stroke in the hospital.
“The right side of my body and my brain were impacted. I worked through speech, occupational, and cognitive therapy. This was an unfortunate situation for me,” said Johnson. :However, it has increased my faith ten-fold, and now I know that I can be a testimony to my daughter to walk by faith and not by sight. Not only am I fighting to regain my health for me and my daughter, I am fighting for increased awareness, early detection, and prevention programs for her and all little girls and women around the world.”
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, Johnson will speak with the offices of Representative Hank Johnson, and Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock 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 7,250 people in Georgia diagnosed with lung cancer and 4,200 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 Johnson 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 Georgia.
Johnson encourages others in Georgia 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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