Whittier Lung Cancer Survivor Joins Actress Shantel VanSanten to Travel to Washington, D.C. to Ask Congress for Increased Research Funding

Californians Rona Cook-White and Shantel VanSanten will join volunteers from across the nation to ask members of Congress to take action against lung cancer

Whittier resident and lung cancer survivor, Rona Cook-White, and actress, lung cancer advocate Shantel VanSanten will travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with their members of Congress during the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day on March 29. As a part of the nationwide event, they will join 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.

Rona Cook-White of Whittier, California is a mom, wife and entrepreneur and also, a lung cancer survivor. Five years ago, she was diagnosed with stage 1 adenocarcinoma, a form of non-small cell lung cancer. Following surgery and 3 years later targeted therapy after an advanced stage diagnosis, she has found new purpose as an advocate for those with lung cancer, like her. She has become an inspiration to others as she has shared her story with others at events like Lung Association LUNG FORCE Walks.

“I am blessed to have healthcare that covered my treatment, and now I’m advocating so that others with lung cancer will get the healthcare they need too,” said Cook-White. “Research has brought us so many new treatments that weren’t available just a few years ago. That’s why I’m also advocating for increased federal funding for lung cancer research. More research means new hope for all of us living with lung cancer.”

Shantel VanSanten, actress and philanthropist, starred in the Apple TV+ critically acclaimed drama series “For All Mankind,” and she can also be seen in the hit CBS series, "FBI.” VanSanten also had a pivotal role in the Emmy nominated series “The Boys,” where she played ‘Becca Butcher’ for two seasons and in “Shooter,” which she starred in for three seasons. VanSanten became involved with the organization after her grandmother, Doris Dooyema, died from lung cancer. She has been a Lung Association research advocate, speaker and is a top fundraiser for Champions Unite and the Southern California Fight for Air Climb. She has recently been named to the Lung Association’s new Ambassador Council, further lending her voice to end lung disease.

“The work I do for the American Lung Association to defeat lung cancer is a cause dear to my heart. It allows me to carry on the legacy of an important woman I lost to lung cancer, my grandmother, Doris Dooyema,” said VanSanten. “In her absence I have been given an opportunity. The opportunity to share her story to help others. The opportunity to use my voice and outreach. The opportunity to stand alongside those who are fighting and let them know they aren't alone. But more than that, together we have an opportunity to evoke change through LUNG FORCE.”

During Advocacy Day, Cook-White and VanSanten will speak with member of the California Congressional delegation, or their staff to share their personal experiences with lung cancer and explain why investments in public health, research funding and quality and affordable healthcare are important to them.

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 50 new 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.

Cook-White and VanSanten encourage others in California 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 the LUNG FORCE initiative at LUNGFORCE.org.

For more information, contact:

California Media Contact
(310) 359-6386
[email protected]

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