By Nyesha Stone
Each year, American Lung Association hosts an Advocacy Day where they acknowledge one person from each state as their Lung Force Heroes. These heroes are associated with lung disease, either directly or indirectly, and are flown out to Washington D.C. to meet with members of Congress and their staff.
Lung Force, according to their website, “unites women and their loved ones across the country to stand together for lung health and against lung cancer.” Although lung cancer affects both males and females, awareness for lung cancer in women is low and there’s a higher mortality rate compared to women than men.
They spend two days in D.C. in total. On the first day they trained, and on the second they spent time meeting with staff.
Margo Ford is Wisconsin’s 2018 Lung Force hero. She met with staff from Senators Baldwin’s and Johnson’s offices and staff from the House of Representatives: James Sensenbrenner, Gwen Moore, Sean Duffy and Speaker Paul Ryan. During their meetings, she campaigned for $38.1 billion to be used for research for National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is a $2 billion bump up from last year.
“We can have all the cures we want, but if we don’t have the research then we’re back to square A,” said Ford.
Ford, says she also advocated for affordable healthcare since the new administration is trying everything they can to take away the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prevents health insurance companies from denying individuals who’ve had previous health conditions, like Ford.
One day, she was stripping her floor when she fell and hurt her ribs, this resulted in a trip to the hospital. During her visit, the doctor discovered lumps or nodules in both lungs, which led to multiple tests. She eventually was told she had stage-four small cell lung cancer, which is incurable. The doctor basically told her that she had no chance, but as a registered nurse, she knew she had to get a second opinion.
It’s been three years and she’s now in remission and is living her best life while advocating for others just like her.
If it wasn’t for ACA she wouldn’t be able to afford the medical help she received, and if it wasn’t for organizations like NIH or the American Lung Association’s research, she probably wouldn’t be here.
“Early detection is the reason I’m here,” said Ford.
Ford 100% supports getting checked, even if you don’t have any symptoms because she didn’t either.
That fall, in a sense, saved her life. She also advises individuals to get a second opinion because there is hope and help out there.
The reason these trips to D.C. are important for people like Ford because they get the chance to put a face to lung cancer.
“They don’t understand. You have to get out there and get your story told,” said Ford. “These people make decisions about our lives and they don’t know what’s really going on.”