This Saturday, Nov. 5th, is the 5th annual Free to Breathe 5K and 1 Mile Fun Walk. It's the third year I'll be involved. It's been that long since my Dad passed away after being diagnosed with lung cancer. That is very hard for me to believe. Anyone who's lost a loved one knows that there are moments when you simply can't fathom that they're not with you anymore. I get those feelings frequently. That's one of the reasons I am involved with Free to Breathe. It supports the North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership, which formed a few years ago to raise money for lung cancer education and research. Many people don't realize that lung cancer is the leading cancer killer -- it kills more people than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined and accounts for nearly 30 percent of all cancer deaths. Yet, lung cancer gets far less funding for research that other cancers. That's in part because there's a stigma attached to lung cancer. People blame the victim. They smoked, so they brought the sickness upon themselves. That's a horrible and ignorant attitude and it needs to change. Clearly, smokers need to stop. But so many lung cancer patients did quit smoking when the research revealed that it was bad and unfortunately, even after they quit, their risk remained. Others who never smoked are at risk, from being exposed to second hand smoke. And still others get lung cancer without even that exposure. The bottom line is anyone with lungs can get lung cancer and no one deserves it. It's a cruel disease. Yet, there's promising research being done and new medications are shrinking tumors in a small population of lung cancer patients. We have to put more dollars toward research in order to achieve the results we've seen with breast and other types of cancer in which the survival rate is high. That's why I got involved with Free to Breathe. My family and I will be at North Hills in Raleigh this Saturday, Nov. 5th at 8am to register for the races and take part in the rally. We will celebrate the survivors who are sharing their stories and we will remember those, like my Dad, who fought the disease courageously. Most importantly, we will raise money for research and raise awareness about lung cancer and how lives can be saved. It's going to be a beautiful morning (Meteorologist Chris Hohmann has promised me). Consider joining us and take a few minutes to learn more about the North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership on Heart of Carolina Perspectives. Thank you.