My husband Bill and I were together 35 years before stage IV lung cancer took his life in 2015. He was diagnosed in August and was gone a few days after his 74th birthday on Oct. 28. He had never smoked cigarettes, preferring the look and feel of a pipe (and the more fragrant pipe tobacco). He stopped using tobacco several times, sometimes for years at a time, to help reduce his chances for lung cancer. (Lung cancer also strikes those who have never smoked at all.)
Later in his life, numerous bouts of pneumonia coupled with COPD were making it difficult for this once active outdoors guy and federal law enforcement agent to breathe. Several lung biopsies and CT scans over the years came back negative. Ironically, doctors finally found the advanced lung cancer we had feared while evaluating Bill for another possible disease. Unfortunately, there was no known treatment for his type of cancer.
His health deteriorated more quickly than expected. His two sons, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren came from Miami for his birthday, bringing his favorite lobsters. He rallied for that festive occasion but called the hospice nurse that Friday night to say goodbye and to thank her, as he believed that would be his last weekend. Despite her belief that he still had time, he was gone on Monday.
I miss my Bill. I hope that by working with the American Lung Association, we can bring attention to the need for increased funding for the CDC and the NIH as well as for access for all to affordable healthcare. These efforts will aid in early detection, diagnosis, and advanced treatments for lung cancer and other lung diseases.