BLACK VOICES
11/12/2015 03:03 pm ET Updated Nov 12, 2015

How Losing Her Sisters Fueled Patti LaBelle To Take Action

"Nobody’s exempt from anything."
Cindy Ord / Getty for The American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE

Patti LaBelle is once again using her fame for a good cause, partnering with the American Lung Association to join the fight against lung cancer. 

The purpose of the joint initiative, Lung Force, is to educate and empower both men and women in the fight against the number one cancer killer of women. To that end, LaBelle will unveil how the disease has affected her life in a short film to debut during National Women’s Lung Health Week in May 2016.

“I lost two sisters to lung cancer and a lot of friends. So when they asked me, it was a natural yes,” LaBelle said to The Huffington Post. 

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, according to the American Lung Association. Though lung cancer is often attributed directly to smoking and tobacco use, two thirds of lung cancer diagnoses are in women who have never smoked or have since quit.

“I never smoked in my life. I never smoked a cigarette, I never smoked the reefer. I never did drugs,” LaBelle said. “And as far as cancer, I thought when my sisters had all died in their early 40s that I would’ve died maybe at 45, 46. And then I made it to 50, 60, 70. And I’m not exempt – nobody’s exempt from anything – so I thank God every day when I wake up feeling like I want to smile.”

In recent months LaBelle has been very active in contributing to health-related issues. In August she leveraged her voice to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic by headlining “Vote 2 End HIV: #BlackVotesMatter” concert. It's no surprise then, that she feels there will always be a need for more celebrity activists.  

“I think they should speak up as much as they can. I’m the spokesperson for the American Lung Association because people will listen to a black or white entertainer-celebrity. And it’s a sin that we have to be the ones to give everyone the message of life. And the activist that are doing what they do, I think they should do much more. Why not?”

For more information on the American Lung Association’s “Lung Force” initiative click here

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