From L to R: Kim Norris, President, Lung Cancer Foundation of America; Fred R. Hirsch MD, PhD, University of Colorado and Treasurer, International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer; Valerie Harper, actor and lung cancer advocate; Robert A. Figlin, MD, FACP, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Board Member, Lung Cancer Foundation of America. Photo credit: Samantha Norris.
Actress and lung cancer advocate Valerie Harper and her husband Tony Cacciotti joined other lung cancer advocates and supporters recently at the Lung Cancer Foundation of America’s “Day at the Races” at the Del Mar Race Track in Del Mar, California. Ms. Harper is currently fighting lung cancer that has occurred in the lining of her brain.
A Forgotten Cancer
Kim Norris, a lung cancer widow and the President and cofounder of the Lung Cancer Foundation of America (LCFA), said lung cancer is a forgotten cancer, and because of an overall 5-year survival rate of only 15%, there are few survivors to stand up and speak out in support of research funding for the disease. “Val and Tony’s participation in the fight against lung cancer means so much to people affected by lung cancer,” she said.
LCFA’s Day at the Races helped to educate the public about lung cancer and featured a special “Breath Of Life” race to support lung cancer research.
The poor survival rate for lung cancer is a direct result of the lack of funding for lung cancer research. It is estimated that 60% of new lung cancer diagnoses will be in nonsmokers—a combination of 45% to 50% former smokers (many who quit 10, 20, even 30 years prior to the onset of lung cancer) and 15% of people who have never smoked. Lung cancer is the only cancer that stigmatizes its victims, Ms. Norris said, adding that somehow society believes that lung cancer victims bring it upon themselves.
Poor State of Funding
The Lung Cancer Foundation of America was established by two lung cancer survivors and a lung cancer widow. Working with many of the top lung cancer researchers and clinicians in the country, they have seen how lung cancer researchers are trying diligently to unlock the secrets unique to lung cancer. They have also witnessed the inordinate amount of time researchers spend in an effort to secure money to pay for the research, an effort that distracts them from their primary research function.
According to the LCFA cofounders, the poor state of funding for lung cancer research also discourages new researchers, leaving a potential gaping hole in future lung cancer research programs. LCFA’s mission is the dramatic improvement in survivorship of lung cancer patients through the funding of transformative science, with the ultimate goal of curing the disease.
For more information, visit http://www.lcfamerica.org. ■