Mississippi lung cancer survivor advocates for research funding in Washington DC

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) – A woman from McComb, Mississippi is sharing her lung cancer survivor story with the world. But the Meridian native also uses her voice to advocate for lung cancer research with lawmakers.

“People heard the word lung cancer and it was scarier because people thought, ‘People don’t survive this, but we do,'” said Mississippi American Lung Association Volunteer and Nancy Smith.

In the fall of 2014, Nancy Smith’s life changed forever. He first noticed a persistent cough, shoulder pain, and shortness of breath.

“A lot of times I think, especially working mothers, busy. I thought I just had a cold or the flu so I went in and got a chest x-ray and it wasn’t good. It looked like I had pneumonia. One of the things about lung cancer is that you need a CT scan to properly diagnose it. So I was treated for pneumonia for a few weeks and then I went back for a follow-up and nothing had changed,” Smith said.

That’s when Smith went for a contrast-enhanced CT scan in February 2015, where doctors found a tumor the size of a lemon in his left lung.

“One of the things that was a little frustrating at the time was that I knew what my biomarker was, there was no cure. So I had multiple lung surgeries and they actually took out my entire left lung and I did general chemo. So thankfully the surgery saved my life at the time. It really made me want to do more because lung cancer is still the number 1 cancer killer among men and women. The survival rate over the The last 5 years have improved by more than 30%, but at the time they were still very low and it was depressing as a patient to think that we didn’t have any new drugs,” Smith said.

He is now the champion of lung power in Mississippi. Smith recently traveled to Washington for the third time to meet with members of Congress at the American Lung Association’s Lung Power Day.

“Part of our purpose in going to Washington is to thank our legislators who have done such an amazing job to finally fund not just lung cancer, but other cancers. So what we’re doing with this immunotherapy is And what we’ve learned about targeted therapies is that they’re not only working to help lung cancer, but they’re also working on colon cancer and melanoma, which has moved the needle on improving survival rates for many different cancers, Smith said.

He joined more than 40 other people across the country who have been diagnosed with lung cancer in asking lawmakers to provide $51 billion in research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and $11.6 billion in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. diseases (CDC) and Medicaid support and protection.

“It’s just empowering to see one person from every state on Capitol Hill wearing our color turquoise and telling them our stories of hope and also that everyone should have access to care. I think 25% of lung cancer patients in Mississippi depend on Medicaid for their treatment, so it’s very important that everyone has access to care and this important test, as well as low-cost CT screenings,” Smith said.

Smith said there have been about 20 new drug treatments for lung cancer since his diagnosis.

Smith said it’s good when you’re fighting cancer to have other people who are walking in your shoes for support. She said that’s why she hopes to mentor and be there as a resource for those diagnosed with lung cancer.

To learn more about lung cancer research, visit https://www.lung.org/ or https://www.lung.org/lung-force/lung-force-heroes/nancy-s to hear more about Nancy Smith’s story.

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