Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

The fight against lung cancer


April 28, 2017

In 1998, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. After chemotherapy and the removal of my left lung, have been cancer free for 19 years. Luckily, I am able to say that I am a lung cancer survivor.

I am one of the lucky ones, because in our country, every five minutes a woman learns she has lung cancer. And the rate of new cases in women has almost doubled in the last 39 years. Yet getting tested for lung cancer is not a top-of-mind cancer concern for 98 percent of women.

For many, early detection is key. Only 16 percent of people are diagnosed at an initial stage, when more treatment options are available. In fact, if lung cancer is caught before it spreads, the chances of survival more than triple.

Patients need quality, affordable healthcare, and to save lives, we need more treatment options and better early detection for lung cancer. That’s why on April 5, I went to Capitol Hill for Advocacy Day with the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative to advocate for patients to have accessible and quality healthcare and to push for sustained and robust federal funding for cancer research.

I traveled to Washington, D.C., along with others from across the country who have personally felt lung cancer’s devastation, to ask Senators Nelson, Rubio, and Representatives Murphy, Demings and Deutsch or their staffs for continued investment in research at the National Institutes of Health and to share why quality and affordable healthcare is imperative to lung cancer patients and their families.

We’ve made some great progress in the fight against lung cancer: Congress increased National Institutes of Health research funding by five percent in 2016; in the last two years, the FDA approved eight new therapies to treat lung cancer; and people have access to treatments because of key healthcare protections. But now that progress and life-sustaining research is at risk. President Trump’s budget FY 2018 proposal calls for a $6 billion, or 18 percent, reduction of funding for NIH. This drastic approach takes research in the wrong direction. It slows progress and delays innovation. Families facing cancer can’t wait. It’s literally a matter of life and death that people with lung cancer have adequate, accessible and affordable healthcare. As I told the Senators, Representatives or their staffs we must work hard to save the 224,000 Americans who are diagnosed each year with lung cancer. I’m very troubled about the American Health Care Act that the House of Representatives considered last month. That bill moved our healthcare system in the wrong direction. Any healthcare legislation that Congress considers must increase the number of Americans who are insured and also cover key health protections, including preventive services like lung cancer screening.

It is clear from the hundreds of thousands of calls that have been made to Congress this year that our collective voices are our strongest weapon in the fight. There is hope in saving more lives by ensuring patients have the healthcare coverage they need, as well as better treatment and early detection options developed through additional research funding.

I am a lung cancer advocate because I know the importance of telling my story. I encourage everyone to visit LUNGFORCE.org to join me in advocating for this patient support and lung cancer research, and sending this message to your senators and representatives in Washington, D.C. Let’s defeat lung cancer together.

Shelly Ferrone is a certified financial planner with nearly three decades of experience as a financial advisor. She began her career at Merrill Lynch in 1985 where she worked prior to joining UBS in 2003. Ferrone received an M.B.A. from The University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla., and a B.A. from Emory University in Atlanta.

Growing up the daughter of an aerospace engineer, Shelly lived all over the United States during her childhood. She settled down in Orlando in 1974. A widow, Shelly has a daughter and two grandchildren, who live in Altamonte Springs, Fla., with whom she enjoys spending time.

Involved in her community, Shelly is on the board for the Central Florida American Lung Association Southeast Region and its executive committee, Board of Directors with Kiwanis of Orlando, and the Women’s Executive Council. She also volunteers with the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center.


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