Wayne  A

Wayne A., IN

In January 2016, my son and daughter-in-law were told their unborn baby has spina bifida. At the same time, my wife Carrie was going on a couple months with a nagging cough.

I asked her what was up with it. Doctor says my asthma must be acting up. Go forward to September 2016, our granddaughter was born, had surgery for spina bifida and is in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). That cough is still nagging and seems to be getting worse. We sure get lots of strange looks at the NICU unit. We were told asthma, no allergies are really bad this year. You’ve never smoked, so I’m sure it’s just an infection. I insist on getting an MRI done on her chest. Yea looks like an infection in your lung. We’ll try another medicine. Couple months later, still coughing. Maybe we better get a biopsy. Biopsy comes back inconclusive, so we’re sure it’s just an infection and not cancer, but we’ll take another one just to make sure.

This time, it was like Babe Ruth hit me in the head with a ball bat. It appears you have cancer. We immediately schedule an appointment with oncology doctor. First appointment Carrie asks, “so how long do you think before I’m better”. Then Babe comes back out with his bat, “I would say you may only have 18 months to live. Two years if you are lucky.” We want to try everything. Immunotherapy can possibly prolong your life if you qualify, however you don’t have the right gene. We’ll start chemotherapy.

So, the battle began. I donned a cancer killing costume and attended every single doctor’s appointment and every single chemo treatment. First one being Christmas Eve, 2016. By May, her body was rejecting chemo drugs, so she was transferred to radiation. It wasn’t too long until she could not talk. We think the radiation has damaged your vocal cords. All the while, Carrie marched along, just like an amazing brave soldier. In September 2017, I retired from my 35-year job as a probation officer and was able to spend as much time with her as we could. Wasn’t too much longer when she had to have an oxygen canister to get by. Not too much longer, she had to have a wheelchair to get by. Then, her breathing got so bad, she needed liquid oxygen. We had two portable tanks which would give her about two hours away from home. We would go out to eat, then about the time she was on her second bottle of oxygen, it was time to go back home because she was worn out.

Then one day she wanted to go to the grocery store. I told her I’d take her and get a buggy to let her go around. We were there about an hour, and she loved every minute of it. I got her home and when she tried to get up to go to the restroom, she couldn’t move. She talked me into letting her sleep on the couch and promised I not call the rescue. Next morning, she was struggling to breath, so on to the emergency room we went. She never made it home.

Two weeks in intensive care and the doctors decided, there is nothing else we can do. Perhaps it’s time to move on to hospice. She very much wanted to go home, but her oxygen requirement was so high, home health care was not an option. Assisted living was not an option, so she had to stay in the hospital. She lasted a couple more weeks. Carrie lost her battle with lung cancer on 11/1/2018. She asked to see her oncology doctor toward the end to thank him. She looked at him and said, well, I guess I’m one of the lucky ones, because it’s been about two years since you told me I’d be lucky to make it two years.

Carrie lost her battle. Nothing went right for us; however, I’m still here fighting the war. I will do anything to get the word out that people need to be screened for lung cancer early. Even if a person was never a smoker just like Carrie and I, she came down with lung cancer. Who knows if she would have been screened earlier, maybe a different outcome. Yes, Carrie lost her battle, but I’m praying our leaders will help us all win the war. We need early screening, and we need more research. No one should have to be faced with going to the grocery store being the most exciting activity in months. Please help and encourage our legislators to provide more funding to the American Lung Association.

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