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Halle H.

The week my grandmother started having symptoms of her lung cancer she was an active/busy person. Even mowed her yard that week. My grandad was pretty much catatonic during that time with COPD so she was doing all the housework.

She had flu-like symptoms at first and the hospital diagnosed her with diverticulitis. After a week she was admitted because the symptoms progressed and they needed to run more tests. When they went to perform surgery they got some tests back and realized it was colon cancer. But, they also realized it wasn’t typical and did a test running a camera down her esophagus into her lung and located the tumor. It’s not often that lung cancer has enough time to progress into colon cancer. The presence of lung cancer spreading to the colon is well documented but the prevalence rate is .5-14%. That day was the last day she was conscious.

It was way too late for chemo and radiation. Also, we realized later that she knew she was dying. She was in ICU for about two weeks and on Mother’s Day, we turned off life support and said our goodbyes.

After my grandmother passed, we realized we had no idea how bad my grandfather’s COPD had really been affecting him. He wouldn’t get out of bed for anything, not even my grandmother’s funeral. After a few months, we had finally convinced him to move in with us so that we could properly take care of him since he could not even bathe on his own. His poor quality of life gave him no motivation to go on without her. My grandfather suffered from a combination of COPD, dementia, and depression. There wasn’t any medication that could get him back to his old self. He lived about 3 years after my grandmother had passed. I am glad now that he is no longer suffering.

I myself have suffered from asthma my entire life. Playing sports my entire life, through college, and now professionally, it is something that I constantly struggle with. During college, I always felt like I was not as in shape as everyone else because I could never run for as long or exert the same amount of energy as the others. And even playing an outdoor sport in the cold, my asthma made me more susceptible to bronchitis and asthma attacks. During college, I had bronchitis once a semester every semester and suffered five asthma attacks. This constantly put me in a worse position in my sport because I seemed to be more fragile than the others. I remember once after having 2 asthma attacks in one month just laying in bed crying because I never understood why it was so hard for me to be able to breathe like everyone else.

First published: June 19, 2019

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