#lungcancer survivor spearheads awareness with license plate proposal @jackieshope @bonniejaddario @joegaetaRead Now
By: Jessica Wagner. This article was originally published by the Cherokee Ledger-News on March 14th, 2012
From a former Holly Springs councilwoman to philanthropist, Jacqueline Archer has her hands full, but not to the point where she can’t take on a project that could change lung cancer research for the better.
Archer, with the backing of Rep. Sean Jerguson, R-Holly Springs, is asking state legislators to approve a specialty license plate that will not only fund lung cancer research but also spread awareness.
However, in order for the state to manufacture the vanity plate, Archer said 1,000 pre-paid commitments are required; roughly 300 have signed up so far.
“All of the required paperwork and insurances have to be submitted to the Department of Driver Services (DDS), as well as the logo design,” she said. “Once all of that is approved, that message is sent over to Rep. Jerguson, my dear friend. He will then take it to the delegation, present it and they will vote on it.”
Archer said she is trying to speak before the Georgia legislators prior to a vote being cast.
As the driving force behind a vanity plate, Archer said she was passionate about the initiative due to her own survival story.
Six years ago, Archer was involved in an accident that required transportation to an area hospital for further evaluation. It was then the mother of three learned that she had been battling Adenocarcinoma, the fastest spreading lung cancer. The mass was described as being the size of the doctor’s fist.
Now at 47, Archer called the car accident a blessing in disguise because the doctors were able to remove the orange-sized, stage III lung cancer before it spread to her brain, which would have lessened her chance for survival. Thirty-one lymph nodes also were removed from her body.
Twelve weeks later, she beat the odds.
Archer’s story took an interesting twist when she told the Ledger-News that she was a lifelong nonsmoker who overcame a disease that kills more than 400 people a day, many of whom have never lifted a cigarette to their mouths.
Archer said she was determined to pinpoint the reason why nonsmokers develop lung cancer.
“There is nothing done for lung cancer; nobody knows why people get it,” she said.
Figures from the Lung Cancer Foundation illustrate the lack of understanding, as the survival rate has risen a mere .2 percent between 1971 and 2010 (15.5 percent to 15.7 percent), while the breast cancer survival rate has more than doubled.
Colon and prostate cancer survival rates also have risen from 25.3 percent to 64.8 percent and 21 percent to 99.9 percent, respectively.
Archer said when she realized how much this disease is underfunded and how little research has been done, the license plate initiative began.
The money collected from the vanity plate sales are pre-designated for the Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute (ALCMI) through the listed recipient The Joan Gaeta Lung Cancer Fund.
“Joan Gaeta died of never-smoking lung cancer. I met Joan 11 weeks after my surgery, and she died the following year,” Archer said. “Her family started a foundation and an annual fundraiser, and I personally chose to align myself with Joan and her family because we have a lot in common.”
Archer said she supports ALCMI, as the organization is on the cutting edge of research and development.
“From what I found out, there are some organizations that are devoted to patient advocacy and awareness, while there are others that are devoted toward research, prevention, early detection and establishing protocol,” she said.
While Archer said she thinks advocacy is good, she wants to back it up and find out how to prevent this disease.
“Working with some of the hospitals nearby, we need to establish some kind of standardization of care so that when someone presents with lung cancer that molecular testing is done because it is not being offered right now,” she said.
Archer said not enough is being done for a disease where time is a factor.
“It spreads quickly; lung cancer patients do not have the luxury of time,” she said. “They have to stop everything … they have to have urgent care and they need to have it from the multi-disciplinary approach, which includes the radiologist, the oncologist, the dietician, the surgeon, etc.”
Until a difference is made and a standardization of care is in place, Archer said lung cancer would continue to claim hundreds of lives daily.
Pre-paid lung cancer vanity plates, which cost $25, can be ordered through www.lungcancerlicenseplate.org. Additional fees implemented from the DDS might apply. Those interesting in pre-paying for the plate need to provide the county they reside and their driver’s license number. Pre-paid plates can be obtained at the DDS by this summer.