In 1996, I was preparing to graduate from respiratory therapy school. My Grandpa had been admitted to the hospital with shortness of breath and coughing up blood. While on clinical rotation I was rounding with a physician and we visited my Grandpa. I remember the day vividly because that is when I was informed that my Grandpa had lung cancer, and the prognosis was not good.
For the next several months I drove him to radiation appointments. Seeing the pain and fear that my Grandpa was enduring was heartbreaking. My family was informed that the radiation was not successful and that his options were limited. Several days later he was admitted to Hospice. I sat by his bed and held his hand as he took his last breath and peacefully passed away. I knew at that moment that I was put on a path as a Respiratory Therapist to make a difference in the lives of patients and families who are experiencing a similar situation.
My Grandpa spend most of his life smoking cigarettes or a pipe. As a building contractor, he was exposed to asbestos and other construction materials that may have contributed to his diagnosis. Unfortunately, he had very little education or knowledge on the effects of his environment and lifestyle. On behalf of my Grandpa and also as a Director of Respiratory Therapy, I understand the importance of early screening, prevention and education. I continue to be an avid supporter of the American Lung Association and its efforts to raise awareness of lung cancer and other lung diseases.