Louisville Hero Visits Capitol Hill to Advocate for Robust Lung Cancer Research Funding & Quality Healthcare

Steve Tong Joins Force of Volunteers from Across the Country in D.C. to Advocate for Lung Cancer Patients

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Shown (left to right) Louisville resident Steve Tong, U.S. Representative John Yarmuth (3rd District), and American Lung Association in Kentucky Advocacy Director Heather Wehrheim

LOUISVILLE KY (03/23/2018) (readMedia)-- Louisville resident and lung cancer survivor Steve Tong traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to meet with members of the U.S. Congress and demand action.

Through the American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE initiative, Tong stood alongside others personally affected by lung cancer to advocate for $38.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2019 funding for the National Institutes of Health for better treatments and early detection for lung cancer, and to ask Congress to act to protect quality and affordable healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions, including lung cancer.

During Advocacy Day, Tong met with U.S. Representatives Thomas Massie (4th District) and John Yarmuth (3rd District) and met with staff of Kentucky's Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul to share his personal experience with lung cancer and explain why Congress must act to pass bipartisan legislation to stabilize healthcare marketplaces and tell the Trump Administration to stop a proposed rule that will hurt people with pre-existing conditions.

Like many with lung cancer, Tong had no symptoms. However, after repeated urging by his wife and mother, Tong agreed to have a low dose screening CT scan and cancer was found in both of his lungs. Over the following two months, he had separate surgeries on each lung, removing a portion of each. Read Tong's full story here.

"Lung cancer lends no favoritism to any person, in fact those who have never smoked are susceptible to this horrific disease. Early detection saved my life and helped me become aware of just how many people are affected; in one day we will have approximately 422 individuals diagnosed with lung cancer. Together, collectively we can be the strong voice in advocating for early screening, cleaner air, increased funding for additional research, adequate health care coverage and ultimately finding a cure." Tong said.

There will be are over 5,150 people in Kentucky diagnosed with lung cancer and 3,530 people will succumb to the disease in 2018. The LUNG FORCE "State of Lung Cancer" shows how the toll of lung cancer varies state by state, and Kentucky ranks highest out of 50 states and the District of Columbia with a lung cancer incidence of 96.8 per 100,000. It's important to Tong to share his story with lawmakers and others so that more can be done to help lung cancer patients and their caregivers throughout the United States and in Kentucky.

"The LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day was a great representation of not only how many lives are touched by lung cancer, but an important reminder that there is hope," Tong said. "It's critical that Congress act and pass bipartisan legislation that will help stabilize the healthcare marketplaces, as well as push back against the Administration's attempts to further undermine healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions. We need to ensure that high quality healthcare is affordable and that people can have the care they need. All health insurance must be required to include patient protections, including preventative services like lung cancer screening."

Tong encourages others in Kentucky to advocate for lung cancer research and healthcare coverage for people with lung cancer by contacting their members of Congress, and learning more about the state of lung cancer in Kentucky at Lung.org/solc. Learn more about Tong's story and about the LUNG FORCE initiative by visitinf LUNGFORCE.org.