#LungCancer vanity plate makes swift move through GA General Assembly @bonniejaddario @jackieshope @teamdraftRead Now
This article was originally published in the Cherokee Ledger-News on 4/3/12.
By: Jessica Wagner
(PHOTO INSERT: Rep. Sean Jerguson, R-Holly Springs, and former Holly Springs Councilwoman Jacqueline Archer stand with a sample lung cancer awareness vanity plate. The plates should be on the back of vehicles by this summer. Photo special to the Ledger-News)
In less than two months, former Holly Springs City Councilwoman Jacqueline Archer has accomplished something that takes many people a year, if not years, to achieve.
A bill calling for the production of a lung cancer awareness vanity plate passed both houses March 26 and has made its way to Gov. Nathan Deal’s office; the bill had not been signed by press time.
“I am just so excited,” said Archer. “I had no doubt that it was going to go through, but I had no idea that the other license plates, according to Rep. Sean Jerguson, have taken a year or more.”
Archer, 47, called the bill a victory for anyone who has been or will be affected by lung cancer in the state.
“It all started in Cherokee County because that’s where I am from, but if we could start it here and continue on, then that’s where I would like to go,” she said. “I am thinking big.”
Twelve additional states, including California, Illinois, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Florida, New Jersey and Maine, have pledged to follow in Georgia’s footsteps with a vanity plate that will mirror Archer’s mission of spreading lung cancer awareness.
“What I am working on right now is an example of what Georgia’s process was for getting the license plate through all of the hoops, understanding that other states may have nuances that are particular to that state,” Archer said.
As a stage III never-smoking lung cancer survivor, Archer said spearheading the specialized license plate has been a dream of hers since she overcame her battle with the disease in August of 2005, just 12 weeks after being diagnosed.
Her diagnosis came as a surprise six years ago when Archer was involved in a car accident. At the hospital, doctors found an orange-sized mass, which, along with 31 lymph nodes, was successfully removed.
Her survival sparked a mission to spread awareness about a disease that she called “underfunded.” The pieces began falling together this past January after Archer teamed up with Jerguson and The Joan Gaeta Lung Cancer Fund to make her vision a reality.
The state required 1,000 pre-order commitments prior to legislators casting a vote.
While the vanity plates met the requirements set forth by the state, residents interested in donning the lung cancer awareness plate on the back of their vehicles can still place orders at www.lungcancerlicenseplate.org.
“We are supplying to the Department of Driver Services everyone who is pre-paying for the license plate, along with the county that the resident lives in and their driver’s license number,” Archer said.
By this summer, residents who placed pre-paid orders, as well as first-time payers, can pick up their plates.
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.
“Now, we are going to be able to see a financial impact on research and early detection so that we can reach the goal by 2020 of having a survival rate of 50 percent versus the 15 percent that has remained unchanged for the last 40 years,” Archer said.
In addition to taking lung cancer awareness vanity plates from coast-to-coast, Archer is traveling to Washington D.C. for a Congressional event April 19. During the event she will speak to legislators about unmasking lung cancer on purpose and not by chance, as was her story.
“I am going to testify on behalf of early detection,” she said, adding it is a collaborative event with herself and Dr. Henry Krebs, director of interventional radiology at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “He will be speaking to the medical side of lung cancer; I will be speaking to the lack of early detection screening and my story.”
Archer has also reached out to Cherokee County Tax Commissioner Sonya Little to promote the lung cancer awareness vanity plates during National Lung Cancer Awareness Month every November.