ATLANTA, GA | March 29, 2023
“My story represents many with whom I was raised as smoking was a significant component of my everyday life,” shares Akers.
“My immediate family and most of my extended family were born and raised in the South. I grew up with the attitude, like many during the 1960s and 1970s, that smoking was part of your life, and no entity or agency pushed any notion that lung cancer was bad or as prevalent as we would eventually come to know. Unfortunately, I have no memory where my family members were not smoking. This included my mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, and cousin.”
“In 1999, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She was alive for almost one year to the date of her initial diagnosis. Looking back, all my family members that smoked, except my brother passed away due mainly to their smoking addiction.”
“The shame I think in all of this, is that if you know people that smoked a lot, you may eventually end up with a list of people that you loved deeply that pass away from lung cancer. My hope is that by my sharing my personal story on Advocacy Day I will encourage our Georgia lawmakers to increase funding for public health initiatives, early lung cancer detection and research.”
During Advocacy Day, Akers will speak with Senator Jonathan Ossoff, Senator Raphael Warnock and Representatives Rick Allen and Lucy McBath 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 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.
Akers encourages others in Georgia 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 Aker’s 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, 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.
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