Funding Fellowships to Find a Cure: ‘It’s About the People’

By AnnMarie Estrada, IASLC Foundation Director

When you think of the IASLC, you think about professional development, networking, and renowned international lung cancer conferences. When you consider the IASLC Foundation, what comes to mind? At first, you may think of fellowships and grants. When we look a little closer, we begin to understand that the IASLC Foundation is about the one of 16 people worldwide who have lung cancer and their families; those who need new medical breakthroughs, and those who are most hopeful for a cure. It’s about the people who are counting on the knowledge-enhancing research that fellowships and grants provide to pave the way toward a cure.

In the past few months, I have had the privilege of working with several lung cancer survivors and advocates who are dedicated to spreading the word about the importance of IASLC Research Fellowships and Grants. They are fundraising within their own networks to support the IASLC Foundation charge to find a cure for lung cancer. Below are a some of these heroes:

• Kathy Weber, a 3-year survivor with undetectable disease. She started her outreach and fundraising in 2015 and, in 2017, she started a social media campaign that resulted in more than $10,000 raised in just 60 days. Kathy continues to fundraise; her goal is $60,000 to fully fund a fellowship.
• Ivy Elkins, a stage IV lung cancer survivor of 4 years, is dedicated to fulltime patient advocacy and to helping other patients navigate their disease through facilitating a private global Facebook group.
• Lauren Fisher, widow of John Fisher and patient advocate, speaks publicly about the critical issue of screening and early detection and has raised enough money to fully fund a fellowship this year focused on early detection and screening.

Over the next several months, we will feature stories on the IASLC Foundation webpage (iaslc.org/foundation) about patients and their families, survivors, advocates, physicians, care teams, fellows, and young investigators. You will learn about the journeys each of these courageous individuals has gone through in the quest to treat and cure lung cancer. They have unique stories, and yet they are all intimately connected. Our goals are the same.

While in Yokohama, Japan, at the 18th World Conference on Lung Cancer, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Chris Draft, former NFL football player, who lost his wife to lung cancer in 2012. Mr. Draft is dedicating his life to lung cancer awareness and to helping lung cancer survivors through his charity, the Chris Draft Family Foundation (chrisdraftfamilyfoundation.org). He inspired me to look deeper into why the research is so important and why raising money for fellowships and grants is so critical to finding a cure. He reminded me, “It’s about the people.”

Individual contributions to the foundation are key to helping fund the research necessary to finding a cure. Our goal is to eradicate lung cancer and ensure that those people afflicted will go on to live long and productive lives. Consider a contribution to the IASLC Foundation today. Go to iaslc.org/foundation or mail your gift to the IASLC Foundation, 13100 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, CO 80011. Any questions about the IASLC Foundation can be directed to annmarie.estrada at iaslc.org. ✦