June 10, 2007
Lung cancer is responsible for 1.3 million deaths annually worldwide. One local woman is using her own personal tragedy to try to lower that number.
More Americans die each year from lung cancer than from breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined.
But when it comes to research money toward a cure, it’s the most underfunded type of cancer.
Erika Robinson’s mother fell victim to lung cancer last year, and now Erika is making it her duty to continue her mother's legacy.
"License plates were something that we saw as a way to get our message out there, that yes, this exists, and yes, it needs our support and everyone's awareness basically,” said Robinson.
She says when her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer back in 2001, she soon noticed that neither the disease nor its victims got the same type of support as other cancers, often times due to the smoking stigma that it carries.
"The first question she was asked, I was asked, anyone was asked, was 'well did she smoke?' It got to the point where we said 'well does it matter?'” said Robinson.
In 2005, Robinson and her mother joined with Delegate Rob Bell and the American Lung Association of Virginia to try to raise the 350 applications that the DMV requires before it will print license plates.
"We went before the transportation committee and did a presentation on lung cancer and the statistics behind it and just how important it is that people start to become aware that lung cancer really is a serious disease and that people are dying every day from it,” said Robinson.
They may not have hit their goal yet, but she says even though her mother is not here today, it would mean so much for her to see her dream become a reality.
"To actually see a car drive by with a lung cancer license plate, I don't even know how to put into words what it would feel like, absolutely amazing to know that it actually came true,” said Robinson.
Money from the cancer license plates will go to help the American Lung Association with research, hopefully allowing victims to live longer with this disease.
Lung cancer is the number one leading cancer death among men and the second among women.