Stand up for lung health and against lung cancer 

Every five minutes, a woman in the United States is diagnosed with lung cancer, including almost 17,000 each year from California. Half of these women will not be alive a year later, and two-thirds of women diagnosed never smoked or are former smokers. The American Lung Association is racing against the clock to save women's lives, and to raise awareness of the facts that lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer of women and that every woman is at risk for the disease.

Taking on a women's health crisis such as lung cancer requires a comprehensive approach. Trever Bivona, recipient of this year's American Lung Association Lung Cancer Discovery Award, is using a better understanding of genetics to transform the lives of lung cancer patients.

By using targeted therapies, "patients are often able to live an almost normal life with advanced-stage lung cancer," Bivona recently told the Wall Street Journal. Bivona directs the Bivona Lab at UC San Francisco, where a growing number of lung cancer patients are treated with drugs targeting the precise genetic cause of their lung cancer, an approach known as personalized medicine. Thanks in part to generous support from the American Lung Association, Bivona has helped develop more effective, less toxic therapies.

On national and local levels, Lung Force influences and mobilizes support for stronger policies addressing the key known causes for lung cancer -- tobacco use, secondhand smoke, air pollution and radon exposure -- as well as increased funding to expand lung cancer research.

Ending the devastating impact of lung cancer also means expanding access to best-in-class education, programs and services. Locally, the Lung Association offers many resources. Freedom From Smoking Online is based on the gold-standard Freedom From Smoking clinic program for smoking cessation. Facing Lung Cancer: Support From Day One, is a unique Web-based learning experience focused on lung cancer patients and their caregivers. Better Breathers Clubs offer support groups for those suffering from lung disease. The Lung Health Expo is a program designed for patients, caregivers and health care providers to learn more about the latest trends, resources and research surrounding chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma and lung cancer. The Lung Helpline provides immediate, clear, and accurate information through professional counseling that addresses the physical and emotional well-being of people with lung disease.

Lung Force is rallying our civic and corporate community to act boldly to bring hope to the fight against lung cancer. We have proudly partnered with CVS Caremark, who recently decided to end tobacco sales in its 7,600 CVS/pharmacy locations, noting that the sale of tobacco products does not align with the company's purpose of helping people on their path to better health.

Through Sunday, you can join our movement by visiting any CVS location in California or at cvs.com/lung to learn more about lung cancer and Lung Force and support our in-store fundraising campaign. All proceeds support Lung Force and help fund research, advocacy, health education and awareness around lung cancer in women.

You can also join the American Lung Association in California on Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at CVS at 731 Market St. as local Lung Force hero Lance Lutticken of the San Mateo Fire Department talks about how his mother, a nonsmoker, lost her battle with lung cancer, and encourages customers to get involved. Most importantly, you will become a part of an unstoppable force that will, one day soon, be able to say we stood up against lung cancer and for lung health.

Anita Lee is chief financial officer and interim chief executive officer of the American Lung Association in California.

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Anita Lee

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