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Making strides to double lung cancer survival rates

Friends and family joined Leanna Whitcher at the Free to Breathe 5K Run/Walk to raise funds in the quest to double lung cancer survival rates in the next six years.

By Lynn Zahorik; photo courtesy of Noor Abadi

A beautiful fall day welcomed participants of the 2016 Free to Breathe 5K Run/Walk at Washington Park on Sunday, October 2.  Briar Cliff resident Leanna Whitcher joined more than 600 people in the 7th annual walk, which was developed to raise awareness and fund vital research programs dedicated to doubling lung cancer survival by 2022.
Whitcher has participated in the Free to Breathe Walk for four years in honor of her spouse Tam, who lost her battle with extensive small cell lung cancer in 2014.  Her “Tam’s Earth Angels” team was made up of 40 people who hailed from California, Washington, Arizona and Colorado.  They were one of the top five fund raising teams, collecting $3,800 in donations.  

Whitcher said she is empowered by the community of people involved in the Free to Breathe organization, which is a partnership for lung cancer survival.  “This year I was much more involved in the  planning of the walk,” remarked Whitcher.  “I was honored to be in charge of the survivor tent and fit bags.  I’m happy to report we had more survivors [participate] this year than any years past.”

The 2016 Denver Free to Breathe 5K Run/Walk was an enormous success, raising $73,000.  The efforts and commitment by those who participated, donated or fundraised to help lung cancer patients and their families was inspiring.

November is national Lung Cancer Awareness month.  To learn more about Free to Breathe, whose mission is to ensure surviving lung cancer is the expectation, not the exception, visit



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