MIAMI, FL | February 24, 2021
South Florida resident Colleen Fitzgerald is passionate about lung health. Her mother died from lung cancer four years ago, and just last year, she survived COVID-19 but is still dealing with lung affects from the disease. On March 6, she will climb more than 900 stairs in Hard Rock Stadium to raise awareness for lung cancer screening, and to raise funds to end COVID-19.
In 2016, Fitzgerald’s mother fell and broke her hip. During her recovery, she developed a fever, cough and had problems breathing, so her family rushed her to the hospital. A chest x-ray revealed fluid in her lungs as well as a mass, so her doctors scheduled a CT scan and a biopsy. Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with stage III lung cancer.
“The lung cancer was pretty advanced. She did 18 months of rigorous treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation. They did six types of radiation, but nothing was working,” said Fitzgerald.
Before she broke her hip, Fitzgerald’s mother had no symptoms of lung cancer. In fact, a check-up just eight months before her diagnosis didn’t reveal anything alarming to the doctors. They didn’t suggest a lung cancer screening despite her age and history of smoking. About a year and a half after the diagnosis, her mother passed away.
“Although my mother lost her battle, mine still continues,” said Fitzgerald. “If annual screenings were a routine part of our yearly physicals, my mom may have had a fighting chance to live and watch her daughters and grandchildren accomplish amazing things. All it takes is a low-dose CT scan to detect lung cancer and right now, it is not a part of our annual routine and it should be. This is why I fight to get the screenings we should routinely have to be able to live long, healthy lives.”
After her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, Fitzgerald connected with the Lung Association to learn more about the disease and get involved. On March 6, Fitzgerald will join hundreds of other people in South Florida to climb more than 900 stairs at Hard Rock Stadium for the Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb. This will be her fourth year participating in the event, and this year it is even more important to her.
“I caught COVID-19 last March. I was really sick for over a month, but thankfully I didn’t have to be hospitalized,” said Fitzgerald. “Since then, I get winded just walking to my car. COVID really has affected my lungs. I am a COVID-19 long hauler. I am a healthy person, and I caught it and was really sick. I can’t imagine how hard COVID-19 is on someone with health issues.”
Registration for the Fight For Air Climb is $35 and includes a $100 fundraising minimum. For more information, and to register, visit FightForAirClimb.org/Miami.
Your safety is always our number one priority. We are continually monitoring local conditions that might affect your Climb. Check your local Climb website for the most up-to-date information.
Thank you to our Fight For Air Climb community partners, including our Presenting Sponsor, Metro-Dade Firefighters Local 1403, our Safety Sponsor, Memorial Cancer Institute, our Jumbotron Sponsor, Florida Power & Light (FPL), and our local sponsors, One Biscayne Tower, South Florida Council of Fire Fighters, Body Routers Fitness, Miami Firefighters Local 587, Nova Southeastern University and Anonymous Donor on Behalf of Alhambra Orchestra.
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.
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