Cristina K

Cristina K., DE

I am asked to share my “Lung Force” story, but, truthfully, the story is not mine, it really is all about my husband Rob. My involvement in this organization is because when we were given his devastating diagnosis, we both found hope with the mission of the American Lung Association. For those who knew Rob, we remember how he loved talking movies, competing on the golf course or softball field, interviewing people for his articles, and finding new bands. His enthusiasm for life was contagious, and Rob enjoyed being involved in the Delaware community. He was a healthy man, who watched what he ate, cheering loudly for the Eagles and Phillies, maintained a healthy lifestyle and was a non-smoker. Many of you may have known him from his college days at UD, as a writer for various publications in Delaware or perhaps as a bartender who poured you a drink while chatting you up at a local bar. He had everyone he knew laughing at some point during your time together, and I guarantee you walked away hoping you could have hung out with him once more.

In January 2019, Rob was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer. The doctors told us that Rob had less than a 5% chance of survival past one year and that it would be a hard, tough battle. Having beaten Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as a teenager, Rob knew what he was up against and was ready for the fight.  He fought through chemo, radiation and immunotherapy treatments, underwent brain surgery to remove one of three brain tumors, and endured physical and occupational therapy with the same passion and desire he had throughout his life, before his illness.  While undergoing treatment, Rob worked hard to continue to live his life fully by making his visitors continue to laugh, reminiscing about his adventures or quoting the lines from his favorite movies. He never wanted his cancer to define him. In November of 2019, the cancer became more aggressive and spread throughout his body, and sadly Rob left us in January of 2020.

Since Rob has passed away, my world - our world- has changed, but I have found comfort in the legacy and hope that Rob left behind. In October 2019, Rob spoke at the Lung Force Walk in Rehoboth and conveyed how with his diagnosis, he learned the importance of compassion and support for anyone who is battling lung disease and cancer. I have thought about these things a lot in the last year. All the people who have offered me hope, compassion, and support as I find my way.  Rob also talked about being thankful. In closing his speech last year Rob said “I’m thankful for each day I get a chance to keep battling, to do the simple things in life, like take my dog for a walk, go to dinner with family, even squeeze in the occasional round of golf, and of course, to attend inspiring events like the LUNG FORCE Walk.” I would like to extend that gratitude to all those who are supporting the American Lung Association. Because of you, there will be more people in the future who will get to do the “simple” thing in life that Rob enjoyed so very much. Today I would like to extend that gratitude to all those who are supporting this event. Because of you, there will be more people in the future who will get to do the “simple” thing in life that Rob enjoyed so very much.

Lastly, the one word that I can’t stop saying or sharing with people when asked to share my “why” is HOPE. It would have been easy for Rob to abandon hope when he was told that his cancer had come back more aggressively and earlier than his doctors had anticipated, but he looked at me and said - “We are going to fight.” Even as his cancer progressed, he would tell me he wasn’t going to give in and neither should I. So I take the message of hope with me every day as I proudly support the ALA and LUNG FORCE because... warriors never quit. We will always have hope that we will win the battle against lung disease and lung cancer. If you are here you believe in the same thing and are therefore continuing to honor Rob and all those who have or are battling lung disease and lung cancer.   

First Published: March 10, 2021

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