What Did Lung Cancer Do to Laura Dern’s Life?

What Did Lung Cancer Do to Laura Dern’s Life?


  • In the United States, lung cancer is the most common form of cancer, and its incidence has been climbing. Late identification is a major cause of lung cancer deaths.
  • People of color with lung cancer are less likely to get an early diagnosis and, if they do, are less likely to receive any treatment than white people.
  • To raise awareness and money for lung cancer, actress Laura Dern collaborated with the American Lung Association.

Laura Dern, an Academy Award winner, remembers her grandparent’s battle with lung cancer in vivid detail.

“I was living with him and my grandmother through the most difficult year of his lung cancer, and he passed away at that time, so the memories are quite vivid,” Dern said about her experience.

The death of her father when she was six years old, as well as the lack of education on lung cancer that her grandfather experienced, have stayed with Dern to this day.

“[He] had the mistaken idea that if he smoked a cigarette, it would help him clear his throat when he was having coughing spasms as a kid, and I recall him telling my grandmother so. They simply didn’t know,” Dern recalled.

In 2014, her bond to lung cancer grew stronger when she worked on the film “Wild,” a movie about a woman who died from it.

The movie was based on the book “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed. In the film, Dern played Strayed’s mother, and as they worked together, the ladies formed a connection over their comparable sadness.

“For any artist, our goal is to represent humanity, so understanding what all people are going through and what their experience is is really significant… Here was a wound I had as a child that I’m now making a film about the subject matter of lung cancer.” Dern added.

After making the film, Dern learned about the American Lung Association (ALA) through her mother’s friend, actor Valerie Harper, who was an active member while she lived with her own lung cancer diagnosis.

“I felt lucky and privileged to learn more and be more involved, and I felt it might be an opportunity to serve both Valerie and the ALA by doing any work I could to contribute to the organization,” Dern added.

In 2015, she linked with the ALA’s LUNG FORCE campaign, which brings together women and their loved ones all around the United States to support lung health and combat lung cancer.

Ms. Abreu has launched many programs over the years to raise awareness about cancer, including running a team of hikers in order to raise funds for lung cancer research through the LUNG FORCE Walk. Her crew may be formed virtually or at a local event, and anyone can join it online or sign up for a street walk.

“[You can] feel powerful as an individual that you can do something, you can advocate, you can help raise awareness, you can help raise funds for research and education rather than feeling powerless,” Dern added.

Disparities among People of Color are exacerbated.


Dern is working with the American Library Association to raise awareness and funds for health disparities.

According to the American Lung Association, people of color with lung cancer are less likely to have an early diagnosis and receive no treatment.

Dr. David Tom Cooke, director of communication for the American Library Association, stated that long-term consequences of systemic racism, inequality, and segregation all contribute to health disparities in general. He cites several historical injustices as contributors to overall health differences:

  • living conditions that are somewhat challenging
  • Menthol-flavored cigarettes, for example, are still widely available.
  • Exposures to air pollution that are neither proportional nor comparable
  • Stress is out of proportion in our society.
  • However, many people in the world lack access to adequate, high-quality healthcare and food.

“Unfortunately,” says Zainab, “this trend is true in the United States. For example, black and Asian people living at low-income levels suffer from poorer survival rates than their white counterparts. Another disturbing finding was that individuals diagnosed with stage III non-small cell lung cancer had a lower rate of long-term survival when compared to those with stage IV disease.”

The American Lung Association (ALA) is the “World’s Largest Breatharian Organization,” according to its website. Mr. Hayek said health education and activism can aid in reducing health disparities, pointing to the ALA’s efforts at the state and federal level to ensure that all persons with lung cancer have access to high-quality, low-cost healthcare.

“We advocate for increased National Institutes of Health research funding so that all those affected by lung cancer may have better detection, therapy, and cure options,” Cooke said.

Treatments and screening advancements assist save lives.


“Lung cancer screening has been shown in two well-designed studies to reduce the chance of dying from lung cancer among persons who have smoked,” she concluded.

Over the previous five years, however, the survival rate has risen from 13 to 22.6%.

Dr. Jessica Donington, director of the Section of Thoracic Surgery at UChicago Medicine, claims that improved treatment possibilities are partly responsible for this rise.

The application of targeted medicines and immunotherapies to advanced cancer has revolutionized treatment, resulting in dramatically longer survival rates.”SBRT [stereotactic body radiation therapy] is another factor to consider. It lets doctors treat sick people with early-stage disease who would otherwise be unable to pursue any therapy because they were too frail,” Donington added.

Screening for lung cancer is critical for early detection and when the disease is more likely to be curable, as well as a screening of high-risk people.

However, Donington emphasized that assessing the influence of screening on survival will take time because only a small proportion of those who are qualified ever get lung cancer screenings.

“Lung cancer screening has been proved in two well-designed studies to significantly lower the chance of dying from lung cancer among smokers,” she continued.

To confirm the diagnosis, you’ll need a CT scan and a consultation with a physician.

“It should be done once a year until the individual reaches age 80 or has been smoke-free for 15 years, whichever comes first. It has a higher lifesaving potential than an annual mammogram or colonoscopy in smokers, especially smoking women (and it doesn’t hurt),” Donington added.

“We hope to see continued improvement in the lung cancer survival rate,” Cooke added. “As screening continues to rise and new targeted and immunotherapies are used and approved, we anticipate seeing a better result.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking, secondhand smoke, chemical pollutants, radon, and asbestos are all linked to lung cancer.

  • smoking
  • exposure to secondhand smoke
  • radon exposure
  • Asbestos, arsenic, and diesel exhaust are all proven to cause cancer.
  • Because of the fact that quartz is a mineral, it’s considered to be a Trusted Source.
  •  and chromium
  • personal history of lung cancer
  • family history of lung cancer
  • for cancer treatment, radiation to the chest is used
  • diet, such as beta-carotene supplements


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