Shantel VanSanten has turned a personal tragedy into a catalyst for helping others.
In 2013, the Shooter actress’s grandmother, Doris Dooymea, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Seven months later, on March 27, 2014, Dooymea, a non-smoker, passed away at age 79.
“It left my family and I in a lot of confusion, and to our ignorance, we did not know that lung cancer was the number one cancer killer and that it could happen to anyone. We made the grave assumption that it could only happen to people who smoked,” VanSanten, who has since joined the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE, an initiative dedicated to defeating lung cancer, tells PEOPLE.
As part of LUNG FORCE’s National Women’s Lung Health Week (May 6-12) and LUNG FORCE’s partnership with CVS Health, where from May 6-26, you can visit a CVS pharmacy to donate $1, $3 or more to raise funds for lung cancer awareness, research and education (for more info, visit Lung.org/CVS) – VanSanten is sharing her story and what she has learned in hopes of educating others.
VanSanten and her grandmother, both from Minnesota, were extremely close. When Dooymea, who had been a breast cancer survivor, started experiencing respiratory issues, and was ultimately diagnosed with lung cancer, VanSanten was her caretaker.
You can read the entire article over at PEOPLE.com!