Laura Greco was diagnosed in February 2015 with Stage 3A non-small cell adenocarcinoma lung cancer with an ALK mutation after a car accident. Laura had no known risk factors.
After her original diagnosis, Laura became a super-advocate for lung cancer research. On November 2, this mother of two young children will be at the Life & Breath Rally on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol. As an organizer, Laura invites all survivors, family and friends to join her and hundreds of other advocates to demand that immediate attention and dollars be focused on this devastating disease. Find out more at the Life & Breath Rally registration website.
Laura was recently interviewed by Lung Cancer Alliance about her evolution into an advocate.
Not long after my diagnosis I was asked to tell my story at Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s Annual “Living with Lung Cancer” Patient Forum. I was just finishing chemo but was happy to share my story and how the state of lung cancer treatments was insufficient. At that time I urged everyone—patients, families, physicians and researchers—to push the envelope on new advances in research.
How did you initially get started on the advocacy path?
It happened when I was diagnosed. I saw the statistics, but saw few survivor stories. I became an attorney to make a difference and found that my lung cancer gave me a new wake-up call. Here’s an injustice—a disease that is hugely stigmatized, where many people suffer in silence, and others, including healthcare professionals, judge them through terrible misperceptions. I pledged then to fight the injustice of lung cancer by telling my story.
From a freak car accident to the day I decided to proactively contact a local Albany, NY newspaper—I’ve had some divine intervention. The day I called Albany Times-Union just happened to be the day that the Chief Justice of New York State died of lung cancer; the editor had been a personal friend of the justice. My story turned into a series on lung cancer, which led to a PBS webcast vignette.
Tell us about some of your past advocacy experiences?
Anyone can get lung cancer, so I’m advocating for all of us. I’ve been at LCA’s 2016 and 2017 National Advocacy Summits and at two of Lungevity’s Hope Summits. I’ve been honored by a resolution for Women’s Lung Health Week by my state legislature, and I’m a consumer reviewer for the Lung Cancer Research Program of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) through the Department of Defense.
Why should other people touched by lung cancer become advocates?
We were all dealt a bad hand. The best we can do is model how to deal with adversity and control what good we can make come out of it. What makes me happiest is to see other survivors and advocates using their voice. If each of us tells our personal story and we band together, we’ll get a positive turn in this disease.
I’ve seen this work with the ALK+ Facebook community of 700 strong. We are interested in living and are doing something about it. As a group we decided to be active participants, so we started an outreach committee and are now working to fundraise for ALK research and raise awareness about the disparity in funding and the continuing stigma.
Tell me about the upcoming Life & Breath Rally in Washington, D.C. you helped organize.
We wanted to convey the urgency surrounding lung cancer to our policymakers. The death toll is staggering and has changed little in the past 40 years. The lack of concern towards advancing lung cancer treatments and cure is an outrage. Change requires everyone to advocate and act to save the very next life.
The Life & Breath Rally is an unbranded, grassroots event. Survivors, family and friends and every lung cancer organization is welcome and encouraged to attend. We will have several Members of Congress and other leading advocates speaking to the emergency need for more research, and we encourage attendees to drop by their representatives’ offices afterwards.
The Life & Breath Rally will be held Thursday, November 2, 2017, 11 am- 1 pm at the U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. Additional questions about the rally can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.