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Marlena T., MA

My mother suffered from COPD for the past 16 years. It slowly stole her independence. First, she got winded walking long distances, then she started having trouble at work, then she was no longer able to work at all. At family events like Disney or going to the museum or the mall, she would most often require a wheelchair - then came oxygen - she could not go anywhere more than a few hours because her oxygen may run out.

She was in the hospital with exacerbation every so often. Then last year became the dreaded lung cancer diagnosis came - she had radiation and did better for a bit, then a second primary lung cancer this time Small Cell - all treatment at this point is palliative. They told my mother she had 12-18 months to live and two weeks later she was in the ICU, she had some sort of bowel infection, that put her into septic shock and then respiratory failure. She was on an up and down roller coaster for two weeks before passing away.

I sat in that hospital with her everyday - while she was on a ventilator and when she same off. I would watch the anxiety and fear in her eyes when she could not breathe. I slept in that hospital every night - so she would not have to be alone. I also sat with her as she died from respiratory failure. The pain that it brings to loved ones is unbearable - and it should not have to be this way!

First Published: June 11, 2018

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