LUNG FORCE Heroes
On August 30, 2016 my mom lost her battle with small cell lung cancer. Her battle started with her diagnosis in January 2014. In early December 2013 she and my step father came to our home in Indiana for my son's annual Christmas orchestra concert. She had been on antibiotics for what was thought to be a respiratory infection. When she navigated the stairs in our home it was unusually difficult and left her winded. Once she returned home to Ohio, a friend suggested she go back to her doctor and get a chest x-ray to see if she had pneumonia. It was discovered to be something much more serious than pneumonia.
After a busy Christmas season and bouts with bad weather, we finally found a window to celebrate both of our birthday's in January. We met half way between our homes at a restaurant. It was in this very public space she would share the news of her cancer. Today it seems ironic. In a very publicly place she had to share a very private moment. From this point forward our time would be mixed with the battle of cancer mixed with celebrating life's milestones.
Mom would start chemo with the goal to have the schedule to allow her to travel to Texas for her eldest grandson's wedding. She would do all the bridal party's flowers. A spring break would be spent going to and from chemo and tending to radiation burns. She would choose to submit to brain radiation to ensure the cancer wasn't in her brain or brain stem. As often as she could she would travel to visit family and for pleasure. She would go on cruises to the Caribbean and Alaska and on retreat to North Carolina. She wouldn't let much slow her down. She would only miss church if that week's chemo left her unable to sit through the service.
By November of 2015 her health was slowly declining. From January 2014 until May 2016, she would only have three to six months when she wasn't in chemo or radiation. I promised mom that if Sandi Patty performed with the Indianapolis Symphonic Orchestra in it's Yuletide Celebration I would take her. That would happen in December 2016. Her health was touch and go the week I was to take her. We were blessed with a window of good health and went. In May 2016 she would go on one last trip to see my brother and then come see her youngest grandson play with his orchestra one last time. By June she wasn't able to leave her home and she entered hospice. She would miss her youngest grandson's high school graduation.
How would you answer "How did you spend the summer of 2016?" I spent the summer traveling from my home in Indiana to Ohio once a week, spending three to five days each time. The last trip would be August 29. Here is what my mom, my hero, would have you know. Don't smoke. She did. Don't use that handicapped parking space unless you really need to. (She would often say, "God just might give you a reason to need it!") Love your family, don't take one moment for granted. Love your friends, they are your extended family. Love and have faith in God, only He makes the impossible, possible. Have hope, make a difference. She is why I show my Lung Force.
First published: August 23, 2017
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Hero stories are the point of view of the Hero and not necessarily the American Lung Association. The Lung Association does not endorse any specific provider, facility or treatment.