CHARLOTTE, NC | March 15, 2021
Charlotte resident Vicky Foster is a single mom and a remote IT worker who loves outdoor summer concerts, cultural festivals, dancing with her daughter, princess tea parties, and traveling to beaches. She is also living with stage 4 lung cancer. This Wednesday, March 17, Foster will meet with members of Congress to raise awareness about the disease and demand action.
Through the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative, Foster 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 2018, Foster was at a spin class when she suddenly had problems breathing, so she left class early. A few days later, she went to the doctor. After several tests, she was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.
“I heard those three words ‘You have Cancer,’ -- stage 4 lung cancer. After I heard those words, I only heard Charlie Brown teacher’s voice coming out of the oncologist’s mouth (Wonk, wonk, wonk, waa, waa). On the drive home, I was in shock and stayed that way for the next three days,” she said.
The cancer had spread to her brain, spine and hips, so she began radiation right away. Her lung needed to be drained weekly, she was put on supplemental oxygen, lost her hair and got a blood clot. She now lives with lung cancer through ongoing treatments, as well as a clean diet, vitamins and exercise.
“I attribute my survival to never admitting, allowing defeat, or dealing with negative thoughts,” said Foster. “I can always pause to take a deep exhale when I need to rest, but then I press forward. I focus on what I can do and not what I cannot do. I made everything an accomplishment, and my motivation was my joyous daughter. I did not care about the known statistics of lung cancer, this was ME and I have always been unique in strength, mind, body and spirit.”
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, Foster will speak with the offices of Senators Richard Burr and Tom Tillis, and Congresswoman Alma Adams 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.
“I am thankful to have the American Lung Association as part of my support system. Together, with action, we can conquer the work that is ahead to ensure lung cancer gets the funding to keep driving awareness, research, and pursuing laws to support health care coverage,” she said.
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 Foster 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.
Foster 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.
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, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and 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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