When Patty Castelli of Southfield became ill in 2013, she had a feeling something was seriously wrong. What she didn’t know was that the simple chest x-ray she insisted on would end up saving her life.

“I was lucky,” Patty says, “I was lucky that I chose to have that scan, and I was lucky that the dark spot on my lung showed up.” After more testing and a biopsy, it was confirmed that Patty had lung cancer. “Most of all I was lucky that we caught it early.” Shortly after the detection, Patty underwent robotic surgery to remove the tumor from her lower left lobe. “I am still doing fine four years later.”

But not everyone is as lucky as Patty. As the #1 cancer killer, lung cancer takes the lives of more women than any other cancer. Yet, according to the American Lung Association’s 3rd annual Women’s Lung Health Barometer — a survey of over 1,000 American adult women that measures their awareness, knowledge and perceptions about lung cancer — 98 percent of women do not have lung cancer on their health radar. Awareness is critical because if lung cancer is caught before it spreads, like in Patty’s case, the likelihood of survival more than triples.

That’s why Patty has made it her mission to partner with the American Lung Association to help spread awareness and save lives.  In April, she was selected to represent the state of Michigan to meet with congress in Washington, D.C. to personally advocate for lung cancer research. “This was one of the proudest moments of my life,” she remembers. “I was representing more than just myself and my own struggles. We are a force to be reckoned with, and we can make a difference!”

Patty will be continuing her mission this Sunday October 1 at the LUNG FORCE Walk at the Detroit Zoo. The event features LUNG FORCE Heroes and their families, a LUNG FORCE Action Passport to interactive education areas, fun games and activities, and inspiring stories of hope. Funds raised support research, advocacy and educational programs.

Learn more and register at lungforce.org or call the American Lung Association at (248) 784-2000.

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