Heather L

Heather L., MD

My name is Heather Lohmann and the story I am about to share is not my own but sadly has become mine to tell. This story is about my Mother. My Mom’s name is Christine Dunn and she lost her battle to lung cancer on July 8, 2019.

Christine was diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer in May of 2019. Sadly she passed away seven weeks later. I think back to the first time my Mom complained of pain in her back/shoulder area to me. Of how it was such a small complaint that would eventually lead to the devastating news. News that her life would be coming to an end. My family most certainly never fathoming that Urgent Care would be the place to discover her disease. When my Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer her CT Scan showed one nodule on her lung. That one nodule quickly attacked with a vengeance. There is so much my family will never understand but we are hopeful that one day there will be some resounding answers.

In the beginning my Mom underwent two ER visits only to be misdiagnosed with a respiratory virus. Thus giving the cancer more time to grow. After weeks of no improvement my Mom sought out treatment at Urgent Care where they discovered the growth on her lung. With the lung cancer being Stage 1 the prognosis seemed promising. The plan set in place included 16 rounds of radiation and two rounds of chemotherapy. My Mom completed only half of her treatments before she died. I think back to how much I looked forward to hearing the ring of that bell at the radiation center. The bell celebrating her last treatment. But silence was all my family heard on July 8 2019 .

My Mom was a beautiful woman. She was so kind, optimistic, and had this calming quietness about her. She was the heart of our family. We hurt everyday. Lung cancer hurts on a multitude of levels.

I struggle through sleepless nights asking myself why my Mom was diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer but died seven weeks later? Why after six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy was she urgently rushed to Johns Hopkins Hospital having shortness of breathe? Isn’t chemo and radiation intended to kill the cancer? But my biggest question is why in 11 short days my Mom’s cancer spread to a terminal stage?

It is painful to remember my family’s naivety when first arriving at Johns Hopkins Hospital. We were so hopeful for a quick recovery. So was my mother. Sadly the days were a struggle for her. In those 11 days of hospitalization my Mom underwent oxygen treatments , radiation rounds, swallow tests, and the worst was painful throat ulcers caused by the radiation. She could not eat or drink. After just 11 days my Mom’s cancer was so aggressive it had metastasized and spread to her liver and other organs.

On July 8 2019 my family was escorted down a hall and brought into a room. We were told my Mom would lose her life to lung cancer. Thirteen hours later my Mom took her last breathe. She was lovingly surrounded by myself ,my Dad, my brother’s Bill and Jim, and sister’s Nicole and Christiane. All her family lined up one by one and said their goodbyes. Most importantly my Dad was with her when God brought her home.

Christine was only 69 years old when she died. I tell my Mom’s story so others will know her. My Mother will always be in my family’s hearts. A beautiful woman who died 4 short days before her 50th wedding Anniversary will forever live through my Dad. My Mom’s smile will never be forgotten by her 5 children, 15 grandchildren, or by her son and daughter in law. Lung cancer stole My Mom from my family. But in taking her last breathe My Mother’s voice will forever be heard. My family is hopeful that Christine’s story and life will spread awareness where less and less family’s suffer at the hands of lung cancer.

First Published: March 11, 2021

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