‘Modern Family’ actor surprises lung cancer survivors

November 7, 2017 GMT

The annual Lung Cancer Alliance, Lung Love Walk in Houston, set up as they do each year for the last four years except with one significant addition, a surprise visit from “Modern Family” actor Eric Stonestreet.

Stonestreet is a spokesperson for the Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMS) “Ready. Raise. Rise.” campaign that advocates for immuno-oncology research.

The research focuses on using immune-oncology therapies that target the immune system to help fight cancer, in comparison to routes of treatment of a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy.

BMS currently is studying how immuno-oncology affects lung cancer specifically. Lung cancer forms in the tissues of the lung and air passages.

Stonestreet first partnered with BMS three years ago after learning about the immuno-oncology research and the promise it made in fighting cancer.

“My mom is a cancer survivor so I thought it was cool to lend my name and face to a campaign that I support,” Stonestreet said.

Stonestreet was brought to Houston to surprise the walkers based on a random draw for the Lung Cancer Alliance, one of many advocacy groups partnered with BMS.

“Because I have a familiar face and familiar name I get to use those things to raise awareness to things that are important to me and cancer research and cancer advocacy are at the top of my list,” Stonestreet said.

Stonestreet said the purpose of his visit was to remind people that there is hope and there are good doctors and researchers here working on the front lines to make cancer more manageable, survivable and treatable.

Lanni Boyd, associate director of stakeholder relations at Lung Cancer Alliance, said that the organization works to not only dispel common misconceptions about lung cancer but also educated the masses in learning that lung cancer is the leading cancer-related death.

“A big part of what we do is raising awareness and putting a face to the disease,” Boyd said.

Boyd said there is a lot of stigma about lung cancer, one that there are people who believe lung cancer is a direct result of smoking. She refutes such statements and said at least 20 percent of people diagnosed with cancer were never smokers.

Tom Barber, lung cancer survivor, has lost his mother and two sisters to lung cancer and said he hopes that once people hear his story feel a sense of hope.

“Not many of us are 8 year survivors, I’m on no medication, this is the healthiest I’ve been,” Barber said.

He added, “This is a survivable disease.”

As much as it is a physical struggle, Barber said it’s equally a mental one to keep a strong head and not be afraid to talk about the diagnoses and the fight for survival.

“Every day you are here you are a survivor,” Barber said.