Hershey resident and lung cancer advocate, Summer Farmen, traveled to Washington, D.C. to met with members of Congress during the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day. As a part of the nationwide event, Farmen joined more than 40 others 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.
“I had experiences from my own childhood that prepared me to navigate medical advocacy. My father spent his career working for a pharmaceutical company as a Medical Science Liaison, collaborating with oncology teams to facilitate investigative studies and clinical trial development. We talked about cancer at the dinner table like a mechanic’s family would talk about cars. Our family was well versed in cancer lingo and our vocabulary included words like benign, malignant, metastatic, and remission. All the while we were shown what words like perseverance, dedication and determination looked like in real life. My father was in a heart-breaking industry, but he was full of hope,” said Farmen.
“When my pandemic cough continued to worsen, I never suspected it would be lung cancer. I had no risk factors, had been teaching fitness classes since college and instilled a healthy lifestyle in my children. It all came to a head in June 2020 when I had a CT scan and was immediately sent to the emergency room. One of my lungs was crushed by pleural fluid. Once the fluid was removed, both lungs and the surrounding lymph nodes displayed a portrait splattered with tumors. I caught the pulmonologist off guard as I asked for benign reasons for this and questioned malignancy and metastasis. I never suspected conversations about cancer from my youth would apply to me.” said Farmen.
During Advocacy Day, Farmen spoke with members of Congress 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.
Summer encourages others in Pennsylvania 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 Summer’s story and the LUNG FORCE initiative at LUNGFORCE.org.