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Elizabeth R., CA

My husband's story is sadly typical; it all started with a cough. It could be heard throughout the house and he was incapacitated by it. At first they thought it was bronchitis, when it became bloody they tested for TB. We never thought of lung cancer, he was 41 and didn't smoke. After months of ruling things out and extended hospital stays we found out it was lung cancer. He had the best possible care but it was probably too late. Radiation started immediately, if they could shrink the tumor then they could clear the pneumonia. Six weeks later, after daily pneumonia treatments and two rounds of chemo he could come home. Life was never the same. The doctors figured out how to control the cough because of the radiation. We couldn't do an MRI so we falsely hoped it was stage 3. We went to specialists, talked to surgeons about removing the lung and looked into clinical trials. He was too far gone for surgery so we pinned our hopes on chemotherapy and clinical trials. Every day he was sicker and we told ourselves it was the chemo. It wasn't fair; he was too young, a good man, we had a good marriage and our boy was only six. On his 43rd birthday we got the results from the MRI and clinical trials were are only hope. Once he was released from the hospital from the third stay we went to specialist again trying to see if there was a trial. For the first time insurance denied a chemo treatment. Radiation was ordered for his lower back and I took to fighting for more treatment. One morning I noticed he couldn't move his right arm, later we found out the cancer had broken his neck and one wrong move could end his life. It was during this hospital stay we filed a DNR. They offered surgery to repair the break but no promise he would survive the operation. Radiation continued to reduce the tumor in his neck but we were grasping at hope. My husband was released to home hospice care. I would like to say he died peacefully but it was painful. The amazing nurses did their best to keep him comfortable as first his mind slipped away then his body. Jorenz was diagnosed on May 2, 2011 and died on October 14, 2011. I have the wonderful support of family and friends but am now raising our wonderful boy alone. My hope is to discover the causes of lung cancer and early detection. It is often discovered when it is too late to do more than pray for just a little time.

First Published: October 29, 2013

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