May 18th of last year was the day that I lost my father. It was the day that I lost my role model, the person that taught me everything I knew. I eventually realized that he was never coming back. My family had been changed forever. My father, Fahim Raja, was diagnosed with Stage 3B lung cancer in October of 2013. As a man who never smoked in his entire life, this news came as a grand shock to our family. My last fond memory with him before he got sick was us going for ice cream, filled with many jokes and laughs. Lung cancer took away the smile on our faces, stripping us of our happiness. My final memory with him before he passed away was seeing him at the hospital in a coma. Lung cancer had taken my father away from me.
As time passed, my father's tumor did shrink. At the beginning of my sophomore year, he came home with only 10% of the tumor remaining in his body. Our family had changed its daily life to also include his care. Our daily routine went something like this: during the day-time, while my sister and I were at school, my mother would work with my father on his speech; in the evening, I would give him his bronchodilator treatment; at night, I would give him his blood thinning injections before he went to sleep. Furthermore, I had to give him his showers, help him get dressed, and assist him with his daily shave. I wish that lung cancer would have more clinical trials and research behind it. I personally feel that the stigma associated with lung cancer is that: everyone that has lung cancer has smoked in their lifetime or that people who have smoked deserve lung cancer. I want people to realize that not everyone that is diagnosed with lung cancer has a history of smoking. I would also love to see greater support for the patients battling lung cancer.