Nashville resident Sandy Bowles was always active and lived a healthy lifestyle. The 56-year-old’s mindset hasn’t changed since being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2017 and now she wants to provide hope for others. She’ll be doing exactly that and more in the American Lung Association’s virtual LUNG FORCE Run/Walk during the month of June.
Her goal is to raise funds for lung cancer research and for the Lung Association’s COVID-19 Action Initiative; a $25 million initiative to end COVID-19 and defend against future respiratory virus pandemics.
After developing a slight cough, Bowles was misdiagnosed with pneumonia and during recovery something still didn’t feel right. She met with a pulmonary doctor that diagnosed her as EGFR positive, a type of lung cancer that alters the EGFR protein present in lung cells.
“You think the worst, you hear what the doctor is telling you but I just thought, I have cancer. I didn’t want to tell anybody,” she said. “I don’t know why this gene mutation happened to me. I wasn’t a smoker.”
Telling her parents was the most difficult part, and with the support of her husband and friends she looks to inspire and educate others.
“People need to listen to their bodies, be your own advocate when going to the doctor,” Bowles said. “I don’t think of myself being sick. I’m a healthy person every day and being positive is the most important thing. I want to give others hope.”
Bowles is the team captain of Friends for life (F4L), a group participating in American Lung Association fundraisers. As Nashville’s top fundraising team, F4L has raised $64,000 for life-saving lung health research in the last two years.
“The Lung Association has been amazing. They introduced me to people that are in my same situation, and it’s great to meet other people that can help pick you up,” Bowles said. “It’s so important to raise awareness and money for research to find the cure for lung cancer.”
Bowles plans on practicing social distancing while on her solo hike to Point Udall in St. Croix. She looks forward to sharing her upcoming experience in the virtual LUNG FORCE Run/Walk.
The Lung Association’s virtual LUNG FORCE Run/Walk will be held throughout the month of June. Participants are encouraged to run or walk their targeted distance outside while respectfully distancing from others or inside their own homes. Registration is $25. More information can be found on the Nashville LUNG FORCE Run/Walk website.
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, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.