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Lori R., IA

My mother received her lung cancer diagnosis on Easter 2015 and passed away just 5 months later on Labor Day 2015. My mom was 86 years old, not on any medications, very healthy, and walked everywhere she went in her small Iowa town. We found out she was sick when she was walking to the bank one day 6 blocks from her house and stopped being about to breathe halfway there. She had to stop, wait a while, and catch her breath. By the time she got to the bank she was so out of breathe that the bank teller had to give her a ride home. This was so abnormal that her children urged her to go to the hospital. She truly didn’t want to inconvenience anyone, so it took her grandson driving over two hours and showing up at her door to convince her that she should go, since he went to all the trouble.

At the ER they did a chest X-ray and found out that she had blood clots in her lungs and a spot on her lungs and kidney. They admitted her to the hospital to treat her blood clots and look into the spots. On Easter morning the doctors told her that she had lung cancer that had spread to her kidneys, and this also caused the blood clots. We were all shocked. She was never a tobacco user or smoker, yet she had been around secondhand smoke a lot. It truly goes to show that anyone can get lung cancer. Her homes had also never been tested for radon. She decided at age 86 that she did not want to receive treatment so no further testing was done to determine what may have caused the lung cancer. She said that she had seen many friends suffer through hard treatments and ended up passing away, so she wanted to be in palliative care.

She wanted to be at home when she passed away so she was able to leave the hospital and get settled back at home. My sister, who lived close by, was her caregiver during the week and I drove 3 hours every weekend to take care of her during those last 5 months, and give my sister a break. Once we found out that she had cancer she didn’t have any energy and couldn’t breathe very well. She was very fortunate that she had so much family that could help out, so that she could stay at home, but it was truly so difficult to watch my loved one suffer. She was only on palliative care for a couple of months and then her care changed to hospice care. We had to help her get around the house, give her medications, bathe her, cook her meals, and try to get her to eat. She spent the last 3 months in bed.

Her passing away as the matriarch was really difficult on the family. It was also an emotional roller coaster to care for her. Her condition would go downhill quickly, and we would prepare for her to pass, and then she would bounce back and make a recovery. The third time her condition deteriorated she became unresponsive and did not come back. She passed away at 5:20 pm on Labor Day. Her funeral was a beautiful day on September 11th, 2015. There were many people at her funeral, even with her being so up there in age. She touched many lives. She was well known around her small town. Even if the weather was rainy or snowy she would bake cookies and walk to the care center to visit the residents. That shows the type of woman she was. She was very involved with her church and the church ladies were very grateful to host the funeral luncheon to show their gratitude for my mother, Betty, for all she had done over the years.

First Published: July 9, 2019

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