By Kristina Houck
Soap opera actress Susan Flannery helped raise awareness about lung cancer when her character, Stephanie Forrester, battled the disease on “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
Although she has retired from the TV show, Flannery is still bringing attention to the disease by joining other lung cancer patient advocates, survivors and supporters at the Lung Cancer Foundation of America’s fifth annual “Day at the Races," to be held July 27 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
“If my participation can help in any way, I’m happy to help,” Flannery said.
An original cast member, Flannery portrayed Forrester on “The Bold and the Beautiful” from 1987 to 2012.
The series was heralded for its authentic portrayal of lung cancer in 2010, when Flannery’s character was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and underwent treatments.
On Feb. 7, 2011, during the 6,000th episode of the CBS series, the show featured several real-life lung cancer survivors, including the late actress Kathryn Joosten and Dr. Michael Weitz, a lung cancer patient advocate and lung cancer survivor since 2006.
“The show got an enormous response,” said Flannery, who made her final appearance on the show in November 2012, when her character lost her battle with lung cancer. “We got a lot of thank-yous from fans and from people who viewed the show for the first time.
“Daytime (TV) has always led the charge for dealing with medical issues, psychiatric issues or social issues — way before prime time or movies. It’s something everyone is very proud of in the industry.”
Flannery also filmed a public service announcement, which aired after the episode, to direct viewers to www.lcfamerica.org for information.
“It was a wonderful partnership,” said Kim Norris, co-founder and president of the Lung Cancer Foundation of America. “What was interesting was the actors, as the characters, were acting. The patients and survivors, they weren’t acting. They were just being themselves. It was very well done.”
Lung cancer is the nation’s top cancer killer, yet it ranks near the bottom in research funding.
To raise awareness of lung cancer and funds for research, Norris co-founded the nonprofit in 2007 with David Sturges, an attorney in Minnesota, and Lori Monroe, a registered nurse in Kentucky — both lung cancer survivors. After a 12-year battle with the disease, Monroe died in 2013.
After losing her husband, Roy, to lung cancer in 1999, Norris devoted her life to being a lung cancer patient advocate. She remains a volunteer with the organization, which has raised about $1.3 million for lung cancer research since it first launched.
“Day at the Races” is one of the foundation’s annual fundraisers.
“This event is a fun day for a very great cause,” Norris said. “I think having Susan join us is just going to add that much more to the festivities.”
“Day at the Races” will take place from noon to 6:30 p.m. July 27 in the Il Palio Restaurant at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Races begin at 2 p.m.
Tickets cost $150 and include entry into the private Turf Club, a tour of the paddock area and a private betting window. The event will also feature a special “Breath of Life” race to raise awareness about lung cancer and support lung cancer research, as well as a silent auction and raffle drawing.
To inquire about tickets or sponsorships, contact Cindy Iker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more about the Lung Cancer Foundation of America or to buy tickets for the event, visit