DES MOINES, IA | March 30, 2022
Although Maria Steele, ARNP, is living with Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer, she will meet with her members of Congress and explain why investments in public health, research funding and quality, affordable healthcare are critical during the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day on April 6, 2022.
“My advice to anyone with a cancer diagnosis is to stay as positive as you can, continue to exercise, eat a healthy diet and surround yourself with loved ones that support you,” said Steele.
In late 2019, Steele began experiencing nightly coughs and chest heaviness. Doctors diagnosed her with Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer with an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation. As a person who was not at high risk for lung cancer, Steele later discovered elevated levels of radon in her home, which likely caused her lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of radon nationwide and the entire state of Iowa is known to be a high-risk zone for radon.
Steele was also found to have extensive brain and bone metastasis. She has undergone brain and bone radiation treatments and currently takes targeted therapy pills daily. She also has a bone strengthening infusion every three months. Steele has responded to her treatments well. Although doctors told her the average person in her condition lives a year, it’s been two years since her cancer diagnosis and she’s decided to live her life to the fullest.
As a part of the nationwide event, Steele 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, Steele will speak Senator Charles Grassley’s office, Senator Joni Ernst’s office and Representative Cynthia Axne’s office and share her personal experience of living with lung cancer.
An estimated 400 Iowans will die every year of radon-induced 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 Steele 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 Iowa.
Steele encourages others in Iowa to advocate for lung cancer research and healthcare protections by contacting their members of Congress at Lungforce.org/AdvocacyDay. Learn more about Steele’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 Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
LUNG FORCE is a national movement led by the American Lung Association to unite our nation in our efforts to defeat lung cancer, the #1 cancer killer of women and men. LUNG FORCE has three priorities: 1) Make lung cancer a cause that people care about – and act on; 2) Educate and empower patients and healthcare providers and 3) Raise critical funds for groundbreaking lung cancer research. The American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE is nationally presented by CVS Health. Find out more at LUNGFORCE.org.
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