Mother's Fight with Lung Cancer Inspires Minneapolis Woman to Climb Local Tower, Make Major Lifestyle Changes

Minneapolis resident Dana Amundson first signed up for the Fight For Air Climb shortly after her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, but now, each year the event has become more meaningful.

In the summer of 2014, Amundson’s mother developed a cough that wouldn’t go away. Doctors first diagnosed her with bronchitis and pneumonia. In September 2014, a CT scan revealed a mass on her lungs and she was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.

“A month later, I heard about the Fight for Air Climb on the radio and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to honor her! We had a great time making bracelets, t-shirts, and spreading the word around the community to help raise money and support her through her chemotherapy and radiation,” said Amundson.

Unfortunately, over the holidays her mother’s health began to decline. She passed away on December 26, 2014. In February 2015, Amundson’s family, Team Junebug, participated in the Fight For Air Climb in memory of their mother and raised more than $15,000 for lung cancer research.

“We didn’t let that slow us down and that only fueled our fundraising efforts as we knew she would want us to do this climb in her honor. Team Junebug raised $15,000 that year thanks to the outpouring of love and donations from friends, family and all those she touched with her positive and joyous personality,” she said. “When we climbed that year, we did it two months after we lost my mom with tears in our eyes but smiles on our faces as the outpouring of love and support from the American Lung Association made it so special for us.”

A few years later in 2018, Amundson decided to make some lifestyle changes. She lost 50 pounds and quit drinking, so decided to tackle the Fight For Air Climb again.

“That year I was the top female climber and I burst into tears when I heard the news! I have never imagined I would accomplish something like that and knew that my mother was with me during that climb,” she said.

In 2019, she celebrated another personal milestone – she quit smoking. That year, she completed Ultimate Climb Challenge, where she climbed up the U.S. Bank Plaza six times in one hour.

“The ultimate climb was an incredible experience and I did it with tears in my eyes and a huge smile on my face because my mother would have been so proud. She is the reason and the motivation as to why I had the strength to quit drinking, to quit smoking and start taking better care of myself,” said Amundson. “Even though she may not physically be here to mentor me and help me through the perils of young adulthood, she is with me every day. Everything I do is for her and she is the reason I will continue to try to make a difference and be the best I can be.”

This year, Amundson is coming back to Climb in celebration of three years sober and two years smokefree, as always, she will climb for her mother on Team Junebug.

The American Lung Association in Minnesota’s Fight For Air Climb will take place on Saturday, February 8.  Individuals, families, groups of friends, corporate & workplace teams and first responders to Climb up the stairs of one of the tallest buildings in Minneapolis, U.S. Bank Plaza (31 floors, 680 steps), to raise awareness and money to fight lung disease. More information is available at FightForAirClimb.org/Minneapolis.

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