Lung Cancer Advocacy: Why It Matters to Me

2018-06-12T13:51:48+00:00June 12th, 2018|Hot Topics, Stories of Hope|4 Comments

During the more than three years since our youngest daughter, Katherine, was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer, we have joined forces to advocate for more funding for lifesaving research into why so many young women get lung cancer every year. Here we are at last fall’s rally in front of the U.S. Capitol, where we joined hundreds of other survivors, friends and families to declare that lung cancer is a national emergency.

By U.S. Congressman Rick Nolan (D-MN)

The hard cold fact is that 433 Americans die every day from lung cancer – the most deadly of all the cancers.

Since our youngest daughter Katherine was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer more than 3 years ago, she and I have joined forces to advocate for more funding for lifesaving research to better diagnose, treat and ultimately cure this terrible disease – and in particular, to discover why so many young women who don’t smoke get lung cancer every year.

That’s why I have introduced legislation to fund additional research to find out why so many young women who have never smoked are getting non-small cell lung cancer every year.

That’s also why I became a founding member of our Congressional Lung Cancer Caucus – to build awareness and support for putting lung cancer research on par with research into other major cancers and other deadly diseases.

To put the funding issue in some perspective, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost our Nation $7 TRILLION dollars. The budget for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health this year is just under $6 billion, with about $282 million targeted specifically toward lung cancer.

Last year, I was able to pass two bipartisan amendments boosting lung cancer research by $5.8 million. That’s a lot of money – but it’s also just a tiny fraction of what’s being spent on endless wars of choice and weapons of terrible destruction. Clearly, it is time to reorder our national priorities.

There’s an old saying to the effect that “you’ll never convince the politicians to make a change until you convince the people.” With that in mind, I continually call on lung cancer advocates from across the country to engage with their local, state, and federal officials every chance they get – to declare once and for all that it’s time to find the ultimate treatments and cures for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, leukemia, AIDS, ALS, chronic pain and so many other dreadful conditions that rob humankind of so much joy, progress and potential.

In his inaugural address, President Kennedy reminded us that God’s work on earth must truly be our own. That’s what this battle against lung cancer is all about, and we’re going to keep fighting until we win it.

Click on the screen above to hear some of my remarks at last Thursday’s Rally for Life and Breath Rally in front of the U.S. Capitol Building.


  1. Lindi Campbell June 12, 2018 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your focus on change. I am so sorry to know your daughter’s was caught in such a late stage. I too was a non-smoker and very athletic but at only 51 a nodule was found by complete “mistake.” Two years later surgery to remove 2 lobes of my right lung my cancer was stage 1A and I am currently considered cured. My heart aches for those who did not find their cancer in the early stages and I hope to fight for continued change for earlier detection testing not just for “high risk” individuals. If your daughter can get it and I can get it, aren’t we all at high risk? I hope to learn more at the Advocacy Summit in July on how to press forward and lend a face and a voice to the fight. I am from Kentucky and have created a t-shirt and a movement to spread awareness about this disease in our state, who unfortunately leads the U.S. in lung cancer cases and deaths. I am just getting started. I have been given a second chance and my story of survival has become my fight for others who never had a fighting chance.

  2. Jill Smith June 12, 2018 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your advocacy work for lung cancer patients and research! I was diagnosed in 2017 with Stage 4 NSCLC at the age of 48 as a never-smoker. I wish a baseline X-ray/CT scan would become a routine or preventive service for all women over age 35 (not just high-risk women). Earlier detection would improve survival rates drastically. I was very fortunate mine was discovered by accident – but before there was lymph node involvement.

  3. Patty Bierer June 14, 2018 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    The story of your daughter battling stage 4 lung cancer is a familiar one.
    Diagnosed in 2002 stage 1 b then stage 4 in 2008. Right now cancer free but not chemo free.
    I will continue my battle along with my family. One never knows when it will appear again. My ribs were the last target. I was a phone buddy for LCA for years talking and helping those I could. A delivery person for needed materials at local hospitals. In 2002 there was no one except the LCA which was in the state of Washington at that time who could help. Now look how much they have done. Hope the battle against lung cancer is won soon.
    Too much money spent on things that are not important.
    Thank you

  4. Caryn Harmon June 15, 2018 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Great to hear this. I am a survivor of Stage 4 lung cancer and always appreciate it when people like Congressman Nolan step up to the plate to support lung cancer research.

Leave A Comment