North Carolina Lung Cancer Survivor Travels to Washington, D.C. to Ask Congress for Increased Research Funding

Elizabeth Speight will join volunteers from across the nation to ask members of Congress to take action against lung cancer
High Point resident and lung cancer survivor, Elizabeth Speight, is in Washington, D.C. to meet with her members of Congress during the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day. As a part of the nationwide event, Speight will join more than 40 other people across the country who have been impacted by lung cancer to ask lawmakers to support $51 billion in research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $11.6 billion in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to support and protect Medicaid.

“I was a healthy mother of three, a wife, a Navy veteran, and a practicing nurse anesthetist of 37 years,” shares Speight. “My life abruptly changed after being diagnosed in 2017 with Stage IV lung cancer. The medical opinion was that I had 4 months to live. I was devastated. I had never smoked and had believed that non-smokers didn’t get lung cancer. No physician I had ever seen for my routine yearly screenings had ever suggested I had any risk, or that I needed any screening exams for lung cancer.”

“Only weeks into my diagnosis I was already unable to breath or walk any distance. Biomarker (genomic) testing confirmed a RET mutation that was known to drive the cancer. Through extensive research my husband found a physician who was studying the RET driver mutation. A few months later I was in the Termeer Center in Boston receiving a targeted therapy in a Phase 1 drug trial.”

“I’m here five years later, not with my health restored, but with my cancer held in check.”
“My story of survivorship is unusual for its critical path of testing, discovery of a clinical trial and just-in-time treatment. It is indicative of how fast diagnostics and therapeutics are advancing due to active research and the acute need for expanding the use of comprehensive genomic testing and access to clinical trials.”

“My personal motto and encouragement to others is ‘NEVER give up, ALWAYS have hope, and LIVE your life.’ ”

During Advocacy Day, Speight plans to speak with Senator Ted Budd, Senator Thom Tillis and Representative Kathy Manning to share her personal experience with lung cancer and explain why investments in public health, research funding and quality and affordable healthcare are important to her.

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 thos 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.

Speight encourages others in North Carolina 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 Speight’s story and the LUNG FORCE initiative at LUNGFORCE.org.
For more information, contact:

Jill Smith
704-818-4138
[email protected]

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