LCFA Mourns the Passing of our Co-Founder Lori Monroe

Sometimes the impact of a single life is far deeper than a whole lifetime. And sometimes a lifetime is too short. In the case of Lori Monroe, both are true. A tireless and selfless advocate for lung cancer patients – including herself – Lori’s imprint on all of us will not soon be forgotten.

Lorraine “Lori” Gail Monroe, 55, co-founder of Lung Cancer Foundation of America (LCFA) passed away November 30, 2013, at Vanderbilt Medical Center after a courageous 12-year battle with lung cancer.

The response to Lori’s death has been overwhelming. The love and support and passion that she inspired are incredible. We know she touched innumerable lives and we would love to hear more about Lori through you. Please share your favorite Lori Monroe memory with us in the comment section at the bottom of this page.  Our hope is that she will continue to inspire others through your memories.

 Lori was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in September, 2001, at age 42. Nobody suspected lung cancer because Lori had quit smoking at age 28. While the diagnosis was shocking and devastating, the prognosis was horrifying. Lori sought a second, third, and even a fourth opinion. Using her own medical knowledge and tenacity, Lori began to advocate for herself in a way that few lung cancer patients could. Her ability to speak the language of medicine was combined with her empathy for all patients. Not only did she push for her own treatment, but she recognized the importance of medical research in the development of new options for lung cancer patients.

In order to ensure the development of new therapies, Lori became involved as a pioneering patient advocate with the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Lung SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) initiative at Vanderbilt University, Advocacy Steering Committee, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG), and Thoracic Malignancies Steering Committee; the United States Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs’ Integration Panel; and the Lung Cancer Action Network (LungCAN).

Lori developed an insider’s knowledge of the key institutions, projects, and personnel in the world of lung cancer research. She leveraged this knowledge, combined with her considerable Southern charm, to address the lack of funding for lung cancer research, along with the stigma endlessly encountered by lung cancer patients. Lori founded Lung Cancer Foundation of America with Kim Norris, a lung cancer widow, and David Sturges, another survivor, in 2007. LCFA’s mission is the dramatic improvement in survivorship of lung cancer patients through the funding of transformative science, with the ultimate goal of curing the disease.

Lori’s unique combination of smarts and charm is summed up by Paul Bunn, MD, Distinguished Professor, James Dudley Chair in Lung Cancer Research, University of Colorado: “Physicians are not often comfortable communicating with patient advocates, but Lori was one who could break the barriers and set up communications that would actually get things done.”

A native of Fairmount, Indiana, Lori was born on October 28, 1958. She earned a nursing degree from Western Kentucky University and dedicated her life to serving others as a registered nurse. She enjoyed camping, traveling, and being in Colorado with her daughters. One of her dreams, upon diagnosis, was to see her daughters graduate from high school. Thanks to her tremendous will, Lori saw her daughters graduate from college and recently attended her youngest daughter’s wedding.

We will remember her always for her energy, her passion, and her commitment, but also for her incredible warmth, charm, and humor. She will continue to guide us with her wisdom, and we will work as diligently as she did to keep patients alive and healthy.

Sometimes the impact of a single life is far deeper than a whole lifetime.

Lori’s brother, Jeremy, shared this touching tribute with LCFA.  We were all very moved by his words and we’d like to share them with you here. 

Please don’t forget to share with us your favorite Lori Monroe memories in the “Leave a Reply” space at the bottom of this page.