By Cheryl G. Healton, Dr. PH
Nice to meet you!
Although I just took the role of Board Chair, the truth is, I’ve been here alongside you for over a decade since I joined Lung Cancer Alliance’s Board of Directors in 2005. I’ve spent my entire career working on a variety of health issues including tobacco control, substance abuse and AIDS, public education and health policy. Currently, I serve as Dean of the College of Global Public Health at New York University and hold an academic appointment as Professor of College of Global Public Health.
Prior to joining NYU, I devoted 14 years leading Legacy (now known as the Truth Initiative), as President and CEO of the ground-breaking national public health foundation that has made significant contributions to reducing the youth smoking rate from 23% in 2000 to the current low of 6%.
The deadly toll of tobacco is something I know well, both professionally and personally. As a result, lung cancer – the nation’s number one cancer killer – is a disease about which I am well informed, but it goes deeper than that.
I am also a former two-plus-packs-a-day smoker who finally quit on Mother’s Day in 1992. While I’ve lost four family members to lung cancer and many more over the years due to tobacco-related causes, it was knowing I was addicted to nicotine myself that nudged me to quit.
My public health — and personal — background give me a unique perspective on dealing with this disease, but I also know that everyone who has been touched by lung cancer has their own personal connection. The bottom line though is that we’re all in this fight together — people like me who quit smoking, people who still smoke and people who have never smoked a day in their lives.
That’s why I’m honored to assume the position of Board Chair with Lung Cancer Alliance because it gives me a leadership platform to fight for meaningful change in the pursuit of fulfilling LCA’s mission of saving lives and advancing research by empowering those living with and at risk for lung cancer.
To be sure, it’s an amazing time in the fight against lung cancer. Never before have so many treatments been available and early detection opportunities exist to catch this disease at its most treatable stage. But there is so much that can and needs to be done. That’s why I enthusiastically accepted this important appointment and why I eagerly look forward to seeing what we will accomplish next.