It's coming up on eight years now (March 27, 2013) since I lost my wife and Nelson lost his loving mother, Patricia Leonard. Patti, as I called her, had a persistent cough and we noticed that she was getting tired quicker than normal. She went to the doctor who attributed it to allergies. I told her there has to be something more seriously wrong, so she demanded an X-ray from her doctor. That X-ray showed a small anomaly that would require a follow-up with a pulmonologist. This was in December 2012 and we had a trip planned to visit family back in Chicago. The doctor knew this and said we shouldn't worry about it and go on vacation, then schedule a bronchoscopy when we returned.
We had a nice trip but worried about the possible outcome when we returned. Patti's aunt was being treated for stage 4 lung cancer, so we didn't tell anyone that Patti may have it as well. A couple of days after we returned she went through with the procedure. When she came out the doctor said, I don't have to have to results finalized to tell you that she has cancer and that was probably her last Christmas.
I had proactively made appointments with an oncologist, so we could be start treatment as soon as possible if something was found. She started radiation and chemo. Patti was so brave throughout the entire process. She was truly my best friend and awesome caring mother. On the early morning of March 27, 2013, she started coughing violently. The last thing she said to me was: "I can't breathe." I was on the phone with 911 at the time.
She passed before the paramedics could arrive. They tried to save her, but it was too late. For the first couple of years, we celebrated her passing with a party to honor her with all of her friends. She was always a volunteer and a giver, who never wanted attention for all of the great work she did. I think about all of the special growth moments she will miss as Nelson grows, getting his driver's license, college, hopefully, marriage and grandkids. It's a terrible thing that this disease stole from her and our son.
We honor her now by giving back and volunteering with the American Lung Association.