Austin-based Nonprofit, The Happy Lungs Project Launches its Premier Fundraiser | Shalom Austin

Austin-based Nonprofit, The Happy Lungs Project Launches its Premier Fundraiser

Community News, The Jewish Outlook

Oct 20, 2022

The Stromberg Family. Photo courtesy of the Stromberg Family.

By Wendy Newberg

Founded in 2021, The Happy Lungs Project is an Austin-based nonprofit aimed at fighting lung cancer. The nonprofit was started by the family of Austin Jewish community member Ilana Stromberg, who is living with lung cancer. In its first-ever major fundraiser campaign, The Happy Lungs Project is rolling out a digital shopping and dining card that offers people a 20% retail discount and a 10% dining discount at more than 70 local area businesses during a 10-day period. Proceeds from the fundraiser will support research conducted by scientific partners MD Anderson Cancer Center, Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford Cancer Institute.

Ilana’s Diagnosis

In the fall of 2019, Ilana Stromberg, Austin Jewish community member and mother of five children, was diagnosed with stage 2 non-small cell lung cancer. It seemed impossible! This type of cancer, diagnosed in 37,000 people annually, typically affects young, never-smokers, like Ilana, who are “healthy” and active, with no prior risks or known genetic or environmental factors. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths and the third most common cancer in the U.S., with 1 in 16 people being diagnosed in their lifetime.Following surgery and chemotherapy, Ilana was “stable” for a year. Then, cancer appeared in her liver and brain. Ilana’s surgeon deemed her “inoperable”. However, because Ilana’s doctors had genetically sequenced her tumor, and identified the RET alteration, Ilana was able to begin taking Retevmo, a novel and systemic RET inhibitor that had only recently been approved by the FDA. With this treatment available, surgery and radiation quickly followed. Following her cancer’s metastasis to her liver and brain, Ilana’s family founded the Happy Lungs Project. The foundation of the nonprofit is focused on supporting researchers and clinicians working toward new therapies to beat RET positive lung cancer. With the help of the community, the nonprofit is raising the money necessary to fund critical research into drug resistance mechanisms and other dependable therapies. Additionally, it is sharing information about early tumor sequencing, and helping hundreds of thousands of people, like Ilana, live with lung cancer, so that one day, they can live without it. 
Ilana’s Community

With the launch of the Happy Lungs Shopping Card, The Happy Lungs Project is bringing together an entire community to raise money and awareness about its cause. “This is a win-win-win situation for Austin consumers who will save money, Austin retailers who will benefit from sales, and lung cancer research which will receive the money we raise,” said Ilana Stromberg, co-founder of The Happy Lungs Project. Happy Lungs Shopping CardPeople interested in joining the fundraiser can purchase a digital Happy Lungs Shopping Card which will provide them with a 20% discount at more than 70 participating retailers, and a 10% discount at participating restaurants, in Austin from October 28 through November 6, 2022. Once the card is purchased online, people receive it by email and then show the digital card to participating retailers and restaurants to receive their discounts.

The Shalom Austin JCC is offering 20% off new memberships during the shopping period. The full list of participating retailers and restaurants is available here.
Diamonds Direct, one of the participating retailers, is hosting a special event on October 27 to launch the shopping card promotional period and is offering early access to the 20% savings to everyone with a Happy Lungs Shopping Card. “Diamonds Direct is humbled and thrilled to host the launch party for the Happy Lungs Shopping Card,” said Lou Verde, general manager of Austin Diamonds Direct. “We strive to give back to the community any way possible, and we could not be more honored to work with The Happy Lungs Project this year on the launch of their new shopping card.” The Happy Lungs Project Logo

For information about The Happy Lungs Project, visit their website or email info@shoppingcardaustin.org. The Happy Lungs Project is on Facebook and Instagram as @happylungsshoppingcard.

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