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It's hard to imagine that not everyone has the ability to gasp after those particularly juicy soap opera cliffhangers, but with lung cancer now killing more people than any other cancer in the world, it's true. But ALL MY CHILDREN's Stephanie Gatschet (Madison; ex-Tammy, GUIDING LIGHT) hopes she can change that. Following the success of the Free To Breathe yogathon she organized last year, which supported the National Lung Cancer Partnership, she's up for the challenge again! And like last year, she's got plenty of support from her former AMC co-stars, including Jill Larson (Opal), who's part of the planning committee for the 2012 yogathon. "She lost a friend to lung cancer, so she wanted to help out," says Gatschet, who began her own support of the cause after her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006. "The kids of AMC started a team -- Danielle Parker (Emma) and Tate Berney (AJ) -- which was so sweet. And I got a voicemail yesterday from Melissa Claire Egan (Annie; Chelsea, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS), who wanted to know how she could get involved and help, so I asked if she would lead a team of soap actors. That means, if as many people as last year can make it again this year, we should have a nice showing of soap actors!"
And hopefully that means there will be a nice showing of support from fans, as well, since Gatschet is passionate about fundraising for the cause as well as teaching people that lung cancer is not just a smoker's disease. "You don't really think of it as being a disease that young people get, but they do," the actress explains. "I met a girl in her late 20s who has lung cancer, and it took a long time for the doctors to even consider she had it, thinking instead that she had pneumonia or an upper respiratory infection. Likewise, my mom works with a girl who is a Division One college athlete, who's young and perfectly fit, who you would never in a million years suspect has lung cancer, but she does. So all of this work has totally changed my perception of who lung cancer affects. You usually think of it as being [something that affects] old people or smokers only, but that's just not the case."
To donate to the National Lung Cancer Partnership or to join Gatschet's yogathon -- which takes place on Sunday, March 25 at the Women's Club of Hollywood in Los Angeles -- visit www.freetobreathe.com. And don't forget that this year's event is family-friendly! "We're having kid yoga, too, with special instructors," Gatschet is proud to share. "So you can bring the whole family!"