Local girl travels to nation’s capitol on lung cancer crusade
by Sally Litchfield
May 20, 2012 12:02 AM | 6253 views | 5 5 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Walker School sixth-grader Kaylee Morris, 12, meets with U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson at his Atlanta office. Morris and her family visited Washington, D.C., during her spring break in April to meet with members of the Senate and House of Representatives, including Isakson’s aide, to pass legislation in favor of lung cancer research which Isakson supports.<br> Staff/Laura Moon
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Kaylee Morris’ single voice is as powerful as an army. The Kennesaw resident recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for legislation for those afflicted by lung cancer, getting the attention of lawmakers such as U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

“Kaylee is an amazing spokesperson,” said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, President and CEO of Lung Cancer Alliance.

Kaylee knows firsthand the impact of lung cancer on a family. Two years ago today, her father Robb Morris, an All-American swimmer who never smoked, was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer. His story was profiled in Lifestyle on Oct. 21, 2011.

“I don’t think a lot of people are well-educated about lung cancer. A lot of non-smokers get this disease,” Kaylee said.

The 12-year-old quickly rattles off compelling statistics with accuracy. “Lung cancer makes up 1/3 of all cancer deaths. It’s the No. 2 killer after heart disease,” she said.

“More women will die from lung cancer than breast cancer,” she added, pointing out that lung cancer is the leading cause of death in every ethnic group.

LCA substantiates Kaylee’s statistics in its 2012 Facts About Lung Cancer (www.lungcanceralliance.org). “This disease has led all cancer deaths for decades,” Fenton Ambrose confirmed.

With such persuasive facts, lung cancer has a low survival rate. Few cases are diagnosed at an early stage when cancer is most curable. Ambrose said the reason is that so little federal funding is committed to lung cancer research.

She said lung cancer has been stigmatized, partially due to public health strategy to deter people from cigarette smoking.

“The unintended consequences are those victimized by their practices. Of the 80 percent of those diagnosed with lung cancer, 60 percent quit smoking decades ago and 20 percent have never smoked at all,” she said. “In Georgia as it is in every state (lung cancer) is the leading cause of death. We don’t have a plan to address it in its totality.”

After taking the lead in an effort to raise awareness and funds for research through the annual No More Excuses No More Lung Cancer 5K Run and 1 mile Walk benefiting Lung Cancer Alliance-Georgia, LCA invited Kaylee’s family to the nation’s capitol where she met with lawmakers and told her story on behalf of her family and others.

“It makes me feel good that I am helping other families with lung cancer. Something needs to be done. It makes me feel good to help,” Kaylee said.

She recently met with Sen. Johnny Isakson in Atlanta who is a lead author, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts of the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act (H.R. 1394 and S. 752). Other Georgians supporting the bill include Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Congressmen Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson and David Scott.

“The Lung Cancer Mortality Act is the first ever call to action for a coordinated and comprehensive plan that would support all aspects of the disease. It is amazing to have a disease of this magnitude that has never had a bill introduced before this time,” Ambrose said.

“Lung cancer is a disease and we have to address it. That’s what Kaylee’s doing,” she said.

“I want people to be educated. I want people to know we are trying to do something about lung cancer. I want people to know that no one deserves to die even if you’re old and you did smoke. Everyone deserves a chance,” Kaylee said.

Because Robb’s disease has progressed, he no longer qualifies for the chemical trial he had been on and now takes chemotherapy.

Kaylee realizes it is critical to share her story about this misunderstood and overlooked disease. “My dad deserves to live. He’s just as normal as any other person. He deserves to live life to the fullest like anyone else. I think he will get through this. He’s a really great dad,” Kaylee said.

“Kaylee is one voice, a very strong voice. We need more,” Ambrose said.

If you want to send your message, go to www.lungcanceralliance.org and click “Get Involved,” “Help Cancer Research” and “Contact Congress.”
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Nancy J. Alvey
May 24, 2012

I am so impressed by your maturity and devotion to your Dad and our Cause. I am a 6 1/2 yr. survivor. You and your friends will be our leaders in the future and your willingness to pass a message like this on to people at least 2-3 times your age is mighty impressive!

Please know that many prayers are coming your way. For you, your Dad and your family, may God bless your Dad to let him live to see his beautiful daughter grow even more beautiful and smarter than she is now!

Keep up your devotion!

Much love and many hugs to a special young lady,

The Goldens
May 23, 2012

You are an amazing spokesperson! Keep spreading the word and people will listen. When enough people hear your call to action something will be done to find a cure, and voting yes to the Lung Cancer Mortality Act is an important first step.
Peter Hendrick
May 21, 2012
Thank you, Kaylee,for this important lung cancer advocacy! You are doing important work!

Peter Hendrick

American Association of Radon Scientists & Technologists

Kerry Morris
May 22, 2012
Thank you for your post! Our family is trying to help bring much needed awareness about lung cancer! We have to find a cure and treatment options! Kaylee is determined to help and be heard!

Thank you,

Kerry Morris
Gail Antoniac
May 22, 2012
Thank you,Kaylee. I was diagnosed with BAC lung cancer 2 years ago that I believe was caused from formalin after working as an endoscopy nurse for 18 years. We put formalin in every biopsy jar and we were never protected from the fumes we breathed in. All of the nurses in my department have asthma symptoms, I got cancer. I never smoked a cigarette in my life. We need to get the word out to health care workers about the danger of formaldahyde/formalin in the workplace and we need to find a cure for this terrible disease. Thank you for trying to help us, Kaylee. Gail gail79@aol.com
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