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Senate raises awareness of lung cancer after Winters' death

Senate Concurrent Resolution 33, sponsored by Jackie Winters, declares that lung cancer is a public health priority and urges increased awareness.

OREGON CAPITAL BUREAU - Memorials for the late Sen. Jackie Winters.A resolution to raise awareness of lung cancer in Oregon has taken on increased meaning in the wake of the death of Sen. Jackie Winters, R-Salem, who died May 29.

Winters, 82, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017, and had been undergoing what she called "proactive" treatment to keep the cancer in remission.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 33, sponsored by Winters, declares that lung cancer is a public health priority and urges increased awareness of risk factors, screening options and treatment alternatives.

The resolution passed the Senate in early May.

Winters was honored in a memorial Thursday, June 13, the same day the vote on the resolution was taken in the House.

"I rise in honor of my friend Jackie Winters, and to raise awareness about the terrible disease that took her from us," said House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, in a floor speech Thursday.

Lung cancer is the second-most common cancer in both American men and women, Williamson said, and the affliction is more likely to affect black men and women. Research on lung cancer has received less funding than other types of cancers, she said.

Exposure to cigarette smoke is the primary risk factor for lung cancer, but has other causes as well, such as radon, asbestos and diesel exhaust, according to the American Lung Association.

Several representatives spoke about increasing public understanding that lung cancer isn't a disease that affects just those who smoke.

"Colleagues, for our friend Jackie, for lung cancer awareness, I urge an aye vote," Williamson said.

Rep. Margaret Doherty, D-Tigard, spoke about her husband, who at 45 was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died nine months later.

While her husband did smoke, "He was also a farm kid," Doherty said. "And he was raised in the '50s and '60s, when a lot of the pesticides and things that they put on agricultural products were not tested, and they were very, very volatile.... So I think it's very, very important that there be more and more awareness, not only of the idea that smokers get lung cancer, but it's a lot of other causes."

Rep. Christine Drazan, R-Clackamas County, spoke about a friend who was diagnosed only after she had to go to the hospital after a domestic violence incident. Her friend is still fighting Stage 4 lung cancer eight years later. Drazan urged more awareness and pointed out the cancer's low early detection rate.

"Early detection would have saved her a lot of pain," Drazan said.