Today: Missouri Lung Cancer Survivor Meets with Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to Ask Congress for Increased Research Funding

Earnestine Benford joined volunteers from across the nation to ask members of Congress to take action against lung cancer

Missouri resident and lung cancer survivor Earnestine Benford met with her members of Congress today during the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. As a part of the nationwide event, Benford joined 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.

On September 15, 2021, after a lung cancer stage 1 diagnosis, Benford had surgery to remove a nodule, but didn’t have to undergo additional treatments. Diagnosed with scleroderma, undergoing multiple surgeries, and being diagnosed with lung cancer despite not smoking, Earnestine highlights the importance of routine check-ups and early detection of cancer.

“One thing I know for sure, had it not been for a routine checkup that included a CT scan, I never would have known I had cancer.  Early detection saved my life, “she said.

During Advocacy Day, Benford met with staffers for U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, Senator Eric Schmitt, and Congresswomen Cori Bush and Ann Wagner to share her personal experience with lung cancer. Benford also explained why investments in public health, research funding, 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 50new therapies have been approved by the FDA to treat lung cancer—giving more hope to those 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.

Earnestine encourages others in Missouri to advocate for lung cancer research and healthcare protections by contacting their members of Congress, which they can do at Learn more about Earnestine’s story and the LUNG FORCE initiative at

For more information, contact:

Janye Killelea
[email protected]

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