Why We Walk

We walk for people. For patients and their loved ones. For colleagues and neighbors. For everyone affected by lung disease. We walk because together we can defeat lung cancer and lung disease one step at a time.

What is a LUNG FORCE Hero?

LUNG FORCE Heroes are patients, caregivers, family, friends and co-workers of those who are impacted by lung cancer. Our Heroes share their powerful journeys — stories which help educate the public about what it's like to have lung cancer or lung disease. Heroes may also be asked to speak at a LUNG FORCE Walk Kick-off event, Corporate Recruitment event and/or on Walk day.

If you're interested in becoming a LUNG FORCE Hero, please contact Alessandra Crish for more information. We also invite you to Share Your Voice and read about other Heroes' experiences too. Everyone's story is unique, and we appreciate you getting involved and becoming a LUNG FORCE Hero!

Read why these LUNG FORCE Heroes walk.

Angela B.

LUNG FORCE Hero Angela B.

I lost my mom, Deborah (Pierce) Bailes, on February 19, 2019 to lung cancer. Being so young—she was just 58 years old—and otherwise healthy, the most difficult thing about this loss was that it felt like she never even had a chance. Despite a history of smoking and a routine of regular check-ups, her primary care physician did not recommend a pre-screening for lung cancer beginning at the recommended age of 55. I wonder every single day if that scan could have saved her life or at least given her more time to fight. She had no typical lung cancer symptoms at first; her tumor was actually detected during an abdominal scan related to her gallbladder. And after it was discovered, the actual diagnosis process took months. Multiple doctors, scans and biopsies were involved, along with way too much wasted time waiting for appointments and test results. All the while, treatment hadn’t started and her disease was progressing.

By February 1st when she finally received an official diagnosis, she had become too sick and weak for treatment. Against the doctor’s recommendations, she had a round of chemotherapy anyway. Our thought was that if the cancer was going to win either way, we had to at least try to slow it down. So we tried. And it obviously didn’t work. And that is why I became a local ambassador for the American Lung Association in Cleveland, Ohio. I support the American Lung Association because they support research for earlier detection and more personalized treatment so that everyone has a fighting chance against lung cancer.

Shannon S.

LUNG FORCE Hero Shannon S.

After several years of supporting the Komen 5K Run/Walk for Breast Cancer Research, it dawned on me that I was supporting the wrong cause. Not that breast cancer isn't a worthy cause and not because I didn't know anyone affected by the disease, but because I had lost BOTH of my parents to forms of LUNG disease. The American Lung Association was the cause I needed to give my time and attention to.

My mother was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer at the age of 54. After nine months of treatment which included radiation, chemotherapy and experimental protocols her tumor, which started out the size of a lemon, had been reduced to the size of shirt button. After a one month respite from treatment, my mom's next PET scan showed that the tumor had metastasized and spread to her brain, bones and most major organs. She died two weeks later at the age of 55 almost a year to the day of her original diagnosis.

My father, ironically, quit smoking six months prior to my mother's diagnosis of lung cancer. Six years after her passing he received his own terminal diagnosis. He was given two to four months to live after years of refusing a lung transplant and battling both COPD and congestive heart failure. He lived 28 months under modified hospice care. He was house bound and on oxygen 24 hours a day. He was in his mid 60s, but looked as if he was in his 80s. He died at the age of 67.

At the age of 37 I was now an orphan having watched both of my parents die at the hands of lung disease from their years of addiction to nicotine.

For the last several years I have worked with my local office of the American Lung Association to raise funds and awareness for lung cancer, general lung health and air quality. Fundraising each year in the names of Jack and Sue Skelly is the one truly good thing I do each year. In striving to share awareness it is my greatest hope that I also honor both my mom and my dad.

Michael S.

LUNG FORCE Hero Michael S.

Most of you know about the tragic news that hit my family in 2017, when my best friend, my go-to person, my brother, Robert Settler (a.k.a. Uncle Buck) was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. He was diagnosed in February and died 7 months later, on September 5, 2017. Robert was not only my "everything", he was so many people's "everything." A natural husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend, Robert touched so many lives which was evident by the huge turnout at both of his services in Albany, NY (his hometown) and then the next day in Westchester County, where his body was laid to rest. Robert was the second brother that I lost (Ricky died in 2002 at the age of 42).

When Robert's wife, Susan Settler, and his two amazing daughters, Julia and Lauren, approached me about doing something for this cause to benefit the American Lung Association; without hesitation, I told them I was all in! With the help from my wife, Mona Settler, and my staff (Addy, Karen, Marie, and Angelina) we joined the team to walk the event and help raise money to save lives by preventing lung disease through research, education and advocacy.