Lauren E

Lauren E., ID

When I was in eighth grade I came home one day from school and walked into my family room. My mom and dad sat there in front of me with their heads hanging low, barley making eye contact with my brother and I. By the end of that conversation I ended up in the bathroom alone crying because I had just been told by my parents that my dad had been diagnosed with stage 4 terminal lung cancer. 

My dad had been going to the doctor many times because he had a “cold” that continued to worsen by the day. He had a very raspy voice and bad cough. The doctors continued to do X-rays on him and found no signs of anything terrible. Finally, he went to another doctor and they did a CT scan and found tumors. Turns out the tumors got bad fast and my dad ended up having stage 4 lung cancer that had no cure. Obviously there are a lot more medical terms that go along with my dad's diagnosis, but I tried to stay away from those and just wanted to keep my dad as healthy as he could be. 

I was 15 years old when my dad got diagnosed and when I say it was the hardest thing to watch, I am not lying. I would come home from school most days to either my dad being in the bathroom throwing up, or him not home because he was at chemo or a doctors appointment. I am not the type of person that likes to show my emotions and knew I quickly needed to find an outlet to put my emotions towards. One of my mom's coworkers informed me about the American Lung Association and their yearly LUNG FORCE walks they do in Seattle, my hometown. I was very hesitant to sign up, I was already very stressed out and didn't know if it would just add to my stress. I signed up anyway, to be a team captain in fact. I named my team, “Strong4Jon” and things took off from there. I have been fundraising and volunteering with the American Lung Association for over four years now. My team and I participate in the LUNG FOCE walks and bike rides. We have raised over $75,000 in those four years. 

In May of 2019 my dad slowly started to lose his battle to lung cancer. I could tell he was fading and that I didn't have much time left with him. He was put in hospice on May 16th. He was miserable in hospice and to my surprise they let him go back home. Our house quickly turned into a hospital and I became my dad's nurse. He was so skinny, his bright blue eyes were almost a faded grey color and on May 23rd I looked my dad in the eyes and told him I loved him for the last time before he passed at 10:13pm. 

The story I just told was a very shortened down version of what my family and especially what my dad went through. Lung cancer is not talked about enough and that is why I am here, to talk about the facts and how terrible of a disease it truly is. If I could save a family from the heartbreak my family and I went through I would in a second.

First Published: February 26, 2021

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