The Touching Way Patti LaBelle Remembers The Two Sisters She Lost To Lung Cancer

(Patti LaBelle One of Patti’s sisters, Jackie / Photo credit: Oprah.com)

Patti LaBelle’s powerhouse vocals are known to shake the heavens, and these days she’s using the strength of her voice to honor the memory of loved ones she’s lost.

The talented singer and baker has had a lot of loss in her family. Her grandmother, mother, aunt and uncle all suffered from diabetes and, due to complications, her mother’s legs were amputated before her death. And her uncle eyesight was robbed from him due to the same disease. Plus, her two sisters lost their life to lung cancer

“I feel blessed to share my voice in the fight against lung cancer for those who are no longer with us. Two of my sisters, Vivian and Jackie, lost their lives to the disease in their early 40’s as did my first choir instructor, who helped shape who I am as a performer,” the GRAMMY® Award-winning singer shared via a press statement.

In a video released in partnership with the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE campaign to kick off National Women’s Lung Health Week, LaBelle (with the help of the East Coast Inspirational Singers) makes a joyful noise to help raise awareness about lung cancer in women.

In a touching video to Oprah, Patti describes how she learned a valuable lesson from her sister’s death after she had asked her to make her a sandwich.

“I had just gotten off the road and didn’t feel like making the sandwich. I told her that I’d make it tomorrow. The next day, I told my aunt to tell her that I’m on my way. And my aunt said, ‘Don’t rush, your sister just passed.’ And held that pain and still hold that…. So I learned something that day: Live for your life for today. Love the ones you love but let them know you love them. Do it now. Do everything now when it comes to your family.”

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the U.S., a fact many do not know. “I was surprised to learn that only one in four African-American and Hispanic women even know that lung cancer kills more than any other cancer,” LaBelle revealed.

Other important lung cancer facts women should be aware of include:

Every eight minutes, a woman in the United States loses her battle with lung cancer.

Lung cancer kills almost twice as many women as any other cancer.

It’s estimated that 72,000 American women will lose their lives to lung cancer in 2016 alone – more than a quarter of all female cancer deaths

African Americans suffer from lung cancer more than any other population group in the U.S

According to the American Lung Association, many people with lung cancer don’t have symptoms until…

the disease is in its later stages. Because there are very few nerve endings in the lungs, a tumor could grow without causing pain or discomfort.

Symptoms, when they are present, are different for each person. However, here a few of the most common:

A cough that doesn’t go away and gets worse over time

A chronic cough or “smoker’s cough”

Hoarseness

Constant chest pain

Shortness of breath or wheezing

Frequent lung infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia

Coughing up blood

Raising awareness and more education are still critical, said LaBelle. To learn more about lung cancer and to register for a chance to see Patti LaBelle in concert, visit LUNGFORCE.org

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