Local Lung Cancer Survivor Meets with Congress to Advocate for Patients

Earnestine Benford will join volunteers in nationwide event to support lifesaving research, public health infrastructure and access to quality healthcare

Although St. Louis resident Earnestine Benford recently had surgery to treat her lung cancer, she will meet with her members of Congress and explain why investments in public health, research funding and quality healthcare are important to her during the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day on April 6, 2022. 

“I would like to tell my story and be an advocate for annual health screenings and early detection of not only lung cancer but other diseases as well to help save more lives,” said Benford.  

In early 2021, doctors found a small but slow growing nodule in Benford’s lung. On September 15, 2021, she had surgery to determine the nature of the nodule and was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer. Fortunately, all the cancer was removed, and she doesn’t have to undergo additional treatments. In addition to her recent lung cancer diagnosis, Benford has had scleroderma for 20 years ago. Living with a potentially deadly chronic disease that requires consistent monitoring, Benford understands the importance of having accessible and affordable healthcare. It was during her annual scleroderma evaluation that doctors found her lung cancer. 

As a part of the nationwide event, Benford will join more than 50 people across the country who have been impacted by lung cancer to advocate for $49 billion in research funding for the National Institutes of Health, $11 billion in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to protect expanded access to quality, affordable healthcare.

Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 Advocacy Day will be conducted virtually to allow this important message to be heard while also protecting the health and safety of patients and caregivers. During the virtual Advocacy Day, Benford will speak with Senator Roy Blunt’s office, Senator Joshua Hawley’s office and Representative Ann Wagner’s office to share her journey of living with lung cancer.

It is estimated that in 2022 alone, there will be 5,690 people in Missouri diagnosed with lung cancer, but there is hope. More people than ever are surviving lung cancer, in part because patients and caregivers are urging their policymakers to take action. That’s why Benford 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 Missouri.

Benford encourages others in Missouri to advocate for lung cancer research and healthcare protections by contacting their members of Congress at Lungforce.org/AdvocacyDay. Learn more about Benford’s story and the LUNG FORCE initiative at LUNGFORCE.org.

For more information, contact:

Dana Kauffman
312-940-7624
[email protected]

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