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Carley A., OH

After months of misdiagnoses, in September of 2018, my family heard two of the most dreaded words; “It’s cancer.” My mother had been dealing with a chronic cough and lung issues for months on end before this diagnosis came. She was treated with numerous antibiotics for what was originally thought to be pneumonia or bronchitis. After a thoracoscopy, doctors determined that the cause of her symptoms was stage IV adenocarcinoma, found in both lungs. 

This diagnosis came as a total shock to my mother and our entire family. How could an otherwise healthy, 46 year old mother of five have stage IV lung cancer? She never smoked, was constantly active, and lived a rather healthy lifestyle. It seemed impossible to all of us. We would quickly learn how unfortunately common lung cancer is, even in non-smokers. 

During a nearly three year battle with the disease, my mother tried numerous treatment options. She went through several chemo and immunotherapy combinations, radiation therapy, and other clinical trials. Throughout the entirety of her battle, she was truly a warrior. There were moments when she struggled, but she never let the disease take away her beautiful personality. My mother was always known for her spunky strength and she fought her battle bravely and fiercely. 

Unless you have personal experience with someone dealing with a lung disease, or lung cancer specifically, I truly don’t think people understand the gravity of the effects these diseases have on an individual’s every-day life. This cancer took a heart breaking toll on my mother’s body. Those of us that are unaffected by lung disease often take for granted the ability to breathe without complications. We take thousands of breaths per day, and never even think about it. Those with lung diseases are not afforded the same luxury. 

When we put together a team to participate in the Columbus Fight for Air Climb in February 2020, we wanted to share my mother’s story. It was important to her for people to realize that this disease is common and it does not discriminate. She always wanted to fight for awareness so that others would not have to deal with the struggles that she was facing. She was a hero to us all when she climbed all 40 flights of the building that year with steadfast determination. It was an astonishing accomplishment that our team was unbelievably proud of. 

As we plan to climb in June of this year, we will be climbing in honor of my mother. She passed away in June of 2021 and we miss her greatly. We strive to continue to bring awareness to this disease, as it was something she was passionate about. The American Lung Association is an organization that I hold very near and dear to my heart. ALA gives us the chance to honor and celebrate my mother’s legacy through Christmas the Fight for Air Climb and it’s a tradition that I look forward to participating in for many years to come. 

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