Tennessee resident and lung cancer survivor, Aaron Hawkins, met with his members of Congress today in Washington, D.C. during the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day. As a part of the nationwide event, he joined more than 40 other people across the country who have been impacted by lung cancer to ask lawmakers to support $51 billion in research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $11.6 billion in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to support and protect Medicaid.
Hawkins’s lung cancer experience started with a biopsy in October 2019. Despite being a healthy, active person who had run 44 marathons, the biopsy revealed that a nodule was cancerous. He rapidly sought medical attention and underwent a lobectomy. He recovered quickly and is now back to full strength.
“Don’t wait. Hit it head on, be patient. Things won’t happen as quickly as you want them to. Trust your doctors. They know what they are doing. There is no ‘typical’ lung cancer patient. I was a healthy 47-year-old, non-smoking marathon runner… with lung cancer,” Hawkins said.
During Advocacy Day, Hawkins spoke with staff from the offices of U.S. Senators Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn to share his personal experience with lung cancer and explain why investments in public health, research funding and quality and affordable healthcare are important to him.
The American Lung Association launched LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day in 2016 to ask members of Congress to support robust, sustainable and predictable federal funding increases for lung cancer research, prevention and quality and affordable healthcare.
As a part of Advocacy Day, LUNG FORCE Heroes have succeeded in helping increase NIH lung cancer research funding by over 115%. Since 2016, more than 50new therapies have been approved by the FDA to treat lung cancer—giving more hope to those impacted by this disease.
In 2022, Heroes successfully urged Congress to extend funding for tax credits so more than three million Americans were able to keep affordable healthcare coverage through the federal and state marketplaces.
Hawkins encourages others in Tennessee to advocate for lung cancer research and healthcare protections by contacting their members of Congress, which they can do at Lung.org/AdvocacyDay. Learn more about Hawkins’s story and the LUNG FORCE initiative at LUNGFORCE.org.
About the American Lung Association
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 Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.