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Sue G., CA

My husband has struggled over the years with several health issues beginning with COPD (after smoking for 35 years and then quitting in 2002). He had Hepatitis C which he beat many years ago, had a heart attack in 2015, blocked carodid artery in 2017 as well as stage 1 larynx cancer for which he had radiation and was cancer free.

In about February of 2019 he started to get congested and went to see his doctor who prescribed antibiotics and steroids. After the initial treatment he felt better for a bit and then it came back again. After a chest X-ray he was told it was pneumonia and got another round of antibiotics and prednisone. In April, he complained of congestion again and started coughing up a significant amount of blood. He called his doctor who was on vacation and he told him to go to urgent care. In urgent care, the X-ray showed pneumonia still and that doctor wanted him to get a CT scan. The CT showed a large tumor in the right lung that was inoperable. After several more CT and Petscans, and a lung biopsy, it was determined to be small cell lung cancer which had metastized to the bones and lymph nodes.

He was in major pain in his back and legs and much reduced oxygen capacity and had to be on oxygen. He also got the first round of chemotherapy . After one week of feeling much better and stronger from the chemo and getting out of the hospital where he stayed while getting chemo, he started to go downhill again and get very weak with various other symptoms such as losing the ability to swallow, weakness, large tumors on his head, vomiting, etc. The difficulty swallowing began before the chemo, so they tried some radiation to shrink the tumor but he was getting weaker and weaker and couldn't return after just three treatments. His oncologist felt that the chemo actually sped up the progression of the cancer rather than slow it down as they had hoped. After several more trips to the ER, he ended up in ICU where they found that his organs were all failing and that he had only days to live. By that time he was not conscious much of the time and there seemed to be no life behind his eyes even though they were open and he was on a CPAP oxygen mask. His heart rate the whole time was over 125 for a few months before even when resting.

We finally moved him to hospice from ICU on August 30 and put him on heavy pain med. Within a few hours in hospice, he passed away. This all happened in just 2 months from diagnosis. I feel as though the doctors could have been more diligent in testing and perhaps diagnosed him earlier but I don't know that it would have given him any more time. This disease is awful and moves VERY quickly and I am just heartbroken that I have lost my partner of 40 years! God bless anyone fighting this awful disease!

First Published: October 4, 2019

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