South Florida Lung Cancer Survivor Travels to Washington, D.C. to Ask Congress for Increased Research Funding

Irisaida Mendez will join volunteers from across the nation to ask members of Congress to take action against lung cancer
Miami Dade resident and lung cancer survivor Irisaida Mendez, is in Washington, D.C. to meet with her members of Congress during the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day. As a part of the nationwide event, Mendez 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.

“I’m a stage IV cancer patient,” shares Mendez. “I fight to live, but every day I also fight to breathe. In 2017 I learned that my uterine cancer distantly metastasized from my uterus to my left lung. It didn’t spread, it jumped.”

“The doctors offered a last resort - a new immunotherapy that wouldn’t cure me but could prolong my life. And it has. It’s been over three years since I was told my time left was limited. But cancer is still a constant in my life. My life shows the need for more research for better early detection, treatment and cures for lung cancer.” 

“While this treatment has given me more time to spend with my family, including my four children, it has not come without costs. During active treatments, I started each year with a minimum debt of $20,000 that included infusions every three weeks to prevent my cancer from spreading. I pay out of pocket to fight my cancer and prolong my life. I am an example of the need for quality affordable health insurance in this country and I know I’m not the only person who faces decisions like this. It is imperative that all individuals have access to quality healthcare without such an economic burden.”

“Research saved my life and keeps me breathing. We need more research to save more lives, and we also need affordable healthcare to cover treatments without it being a toll on the family income.”

During Advocacy Day, Mendez will speak with Senator Rick Scott, Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Mario Diaz-Balart 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.

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.

Mendez encourages others in Florida 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 Mendez’s story and the LUNG FORCE initiative at LUNGFORCE.org.
For more information, contact:

Jill Smith
704-818-4138
[email protected]

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