WILMINGTON, DE — Wilmington resident and lung cancer advocate Cristina Kalesse is traveling to Washington, D.C. to meet with her members of Congress during the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day tomorrow (Wednesday, March 29). As a part of the nationwide event, Cristina will join more than 40 other people across the country who have been impacted by lung cancer to ask lawmakers to support $51 billion in research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $11.6B in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to support and protect Medicaid.
Cristina Kalesse, Wilmington resident and assistant principal, Alexis I. du Pont Middle School, lost her beloved husband Rob to metastatic lung cancer in 2020. While undergoing treatment, Rob worked hard to continue to live his life fully by making his visitors continue to laugh, reminiscing about his adventures or quoting the lines from his favorite movies. He never wanted his cancer to define him. His loss was devastating and prompted Cristina to honor his legacy by advocating for other lung cancer patients through her work with the American Lung Association. She joined LUNG FORCE in 2019 with her husband Rob and has been a LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day participant since 2020.
“I am continuing to work with the American Lung Association because I believe in what they are doing, but more importantly because the fight against lung cancer and lung disease is not over. I know that Rob is with me at these events and I do this because of him. Even at the end, he never gave up hope. So I continue to have hope and I will continue to advocate for him and all those who are battling lung disease.
“Additionally, as a middle school assistant principal, I see 11-year-olds who are starting to vape. It horrifies me that at this young age, they are damaging their lungs. If this continues we are going to face a new lung disease that we may not even understand how to fight or cure. The work of the American Lung Association will become exponentially more important as we see younger and younger people deal with lung disease.”
During Advocacy Day, Cristina will speak with staff from the offices of Senator Chris Coons, Senator Tom Carper, and Representative Lisa Bult Rochester to share her personal experience with lung cancer and explain why investments in public health, research funding and quality and affordable healthcare are important to her.
The American Lung Association launched LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day in 2016 to ask members of Congress to support robust, sustainable and predictable federal funding increases for lung cancer research, prevention and quality and affordable healthcare. As a part of Advocacy Day, LUNG FORCE Heroes have succeeded in helping increase NIH lung cancer research funding by over 115%. Since 2016, more than 50 new therapies have been approved by the FDA to treat lung cancer—giving more hope to those impacted by this disease. In 2022, Heroes successfully urged Congress to extend funding for tax credits so more than three million Americans were able to keep affordable healthcare coverage through the federal and state marketplaces.
Cristina is encouraging others in Delaware to advocate for lung cancer research and healthcare protections by contacting their members of Congress, which they can do at Lung.org/AdvocacyDay. Learn more about Cristina Kalesse’s story and the LUNG FORCE initiative at LUNGFORCE.org.
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