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Shantel V.

Shantel VanSanten

I joined the American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE initiative in honor of my grandmother, Doris, who passed away from lung cancer at the age of 79. She was the light of my life and a living example of love. On the day of her diagnosis, I felt angry and confused. She responded by looking at us all with her determined brown eyes and said, "It is what it is." I remember her grace in the face of fear.

She and I used to say, "As long as I breathe, I hope." With hope guiding my heart, I remember my hero and know I must not let her story end with a date. In the midst of loss, I found an opportunity. The opportunity to carry on her wish and honor her life. With my voice, I will echo her desire to inspire others with her story. After losing my grandmother to lung cancer, I was given the opportunity to have a voice and help raise awareness of lung cancer in her honor.

I have spoken at LUNG FORCE events and have worked to raise funds for research, education and to help fight for those who are fighting for themselves.

Back in March, I had the opportunity to join more than 50 LUNG FORCE Heroes on Capitol Hill to push for quality, affordable healthcare and increased research funding at the National Institutes of Health that will result in more treatment options and better early detection methods.

I will continue to fight alongside those who are fighting. I will be a voice for the voiceless. I permanently wear her initials to remember defeat is not an option. Only a cure will extinguish my fight.

By supporting LUNG FORCE, we can save lives, and make sure that no family loses a loved one to lung cancer.

First published: April 27, 2018

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Hero stories are the point of view of the Hero and not necessarily the American Lung Association. The Lung Association does not endorse any specific provider, facility or treatment.


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