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It seems every actor has a charitable organization that ranks high on the list of those to support, but one in particular hit ALL MY CHILDREN's Stephanie Gatschet (Madison) very close to home. Her mother, Nancy, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006, and the traumatic event spurred the actress to start supporting the National Lung Cancer Partnership and educate others on the lack of knowledge and funding for the horrifying disease. Her latest effort to help the cause: organizing a Free To Breathe fundraising yogathon that will be taking place on Sunday, March 20. "I thought I would lose my mom, who happens to be my best friend in the world," Gatschet says. "The odds were against her, so when she did survive, she felt like she really had to take the opportunity to use the new life that she was granted to help other people... and given all that I learned after my mom's battle, I felt I wanted to do my part, too."
Some of the scary stats that Gatschet learned include the fact that lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of women -- taking more lives than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and colon cancer combined -- and that despite those numbers, it's the least funded cancer out there. "The stigma of lung cancer being a smoker's disease really stands in the way of getting the proper funding and awareness," she points out. "And it's so unfortunate, not only because it doesn't really matter if a person smoked or not -- no one deserves to get cancer -- but more than half of the people diagnosed with lung cancer now are non-smokers! Everyone should know about that, and the more we can remove the lung cancer conversation from the smoking relation, the more progress we'll make in curing it."
Gatschet and several of her AMC co-stars, including Cameron Mathison (Ryan), Christina Bennett Lind (Bianca), Denise Vasi (Randi) and Jordi Vilasuso (Griffin), will be taking part in the yogathon, which is being held at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, CA -- the same place AMC tapes a lot of their on-location shots! -- and the actress hopes fans will join her and her co-stars or at least help donate to the cause that's so close to her heart. For information on how to sign up or to donate, visit www.freetobreathe.org.