Janet P

Janet P., RI

Honey, wake-up; I'm coughing up blood.  

I did not fully comprehend the gravity of my Lovey’s situation on that early Saturday, March 9th morning in 2019 until a few hours later. Upon arriving at Miriam Hospital, the nurses immediately walked Karen and me to bed in the emergency room. After a battery of tests, two doctors, in the kindest way possible, broke the most dreadful news, “you have Stage 4 Lung Cancer, and it has spread to multiple organs outside of the right lung.” Shocked, speechless, and scared, all I could do is wrap my arms around the love of my life. Nearly two years later, that day and the dreadful whirlwind of events that followed continue to pierce my heart and take my breath away.

Karen passed away eleven days later. My wife and loving partner of 23 years, who gave me all she had, left my arms at 5:33 p.m. on March 20th. Devastated, lost, alone, and angry, I was determined to find justice for this unjust outcome for my caring 53 years young spouse.

Throughout those frightening eleven days, I scoured journals and the American Lung Association website for answers. How could this happen to a woman who was under the care of a doctor? For nearly a year, Karen’s doctor continued prescribing meds to treat bronchitis and sciatica without further investigation. As months went by, Karen asked and begged for an X-ray and MRI, only to hear, "we need to take these steps first." Steps that did not work were not the right course of action for a 30+ year smoker whose mother passed away from lung cancer at 60 years of age.

What my soulmate endured - emotionally, physically, and mentally - throughout those long eleven days is heroic all in itself. Karen's compassion for others and love for life - a life she fought for until the bitter end – is why I support the American Lung Association. I rise in Karen’s memory - a LUNG FORCE Hero – Fighting for early detection and advocating for lung cancer screening methods for a wider group of people to help prevent someone else and their family from going down this same path.

First Published: February 5, 2021

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