LUNG FORCE Heroes
My name is Lisa – I am a daughter, a wife, a mother – and my life has been profoundly touched by lung cancer. On December 27, 2010, I was in the car with my boys and my husband, who just came home from Afghanistan for the holidays; we were heading to dinner. My cell phone rang at approximately 4:30 p.m. and it was my dad. He had the results of the biopsy…it was cancer. Those three (3) words…nobody ever wants to hear or say. I heard them and the tears began to fall down my cheeks…our life was about to change.
My dad just retired. He worked hard for 40 years and was ready to relax, play the piano and guitar but most of all plan some trips with mom…it was what they had planned for years. The only trips that were planned were trips to the hospital for surgery, to doctor’s offices, chemo appointments, radiation appointments, and scans. There was no time to relax…he was back to work and it was to live.
My father smoked at a young age but had stopped 26 years prior. He had a cough, a hearty cough for months, but when the doctor checked it out it was nothing to be alarmed about. He was given asthma and cough meds to alleviate the systematic cough and seemed to be ok. That was the beginning of the end. The cough continued and he became very ill which led him to the emergency room. The ER doctor claimed that his symptoms presented like pneumonia but wanted to check out his chest. The doctor requested a CT Scan, not an X-ray, which was odd at first, but we were thankful. It showed what we were dreading but hopeful it would be an easy fix. We could just remove the tumor, stitch it up and back to our beautiful life!
We met with the doctor, came up with a treatment plan and then my positive spirit came alive. I tried to be the cheerleader of the bunch and keep everyone positive. The tumor was out, he is going to be fine. Let the meds do their job and he will be good to go! However, the chemo and radiation treatments took a toll on his body. Nobody knows it more than mom. She was the true caregiver through it all. The days leading up to “the scan” left knots in our stomach and even worse waiting for the results. You think having a clean scan is such wonderful news. You embrace it for a month until the next scan shows it has come back with a vengeance…now in the bones and brain. Sitting with my father on the hospital bed, rubbing his back while he tried to breathe, was excruciating! I wanted to yank my lungs out and give them to him. The feeling of helplessness is an understatement. I will never forget the scared look on his face when he tried to catch his breath and couldn’t…it brings tears to my eyes just typing this.
This is what Lung Cancer does to its victims. It takes away the air only to suffocate its victim. There are no words to describe how I felt watching my loved ones suffer from this disease - I lost my father, Ed, at age 68 to Adenocarcinoma Stage 3 – Lung Cancer that spread to his bones then brain on August 31, 2013 at 7:50 p.m. My Aunt Donna, age 68, dad’s sister, died in June 2011, and Aunt Linda, age 62, mom’s sister, in September 2010. They all died from this disease in a span of three (3) years. My husband was in Afghanistan while we buried my aunts. I thank God every day that he was home when we had to bury my dad. Needless to say, it was a very difficult time for my family. If there was additional research and funding for early detection, my dad would be alive today. If there was funding to create a test that would “red flag” a patient to get further tests or a screening of some sort, my dad and aunts would be alive today. Earlier detection is needed so the patient has the strength to fight. By the time the disease is detected, the body is already compromised; compound it with toxic treatments; it becomes even weaker…and the disease wins most every time.
The importance of new research, treatment and the work of the American Lung Association is paramount in helping more people overcome this dreadful disease. If I can work to help increase research and preventative measures, I believe that I will have fulfilled one of the major purposes of my life. What can I do to help?
First published: November 29, 2018
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Hero stories are the point of view of the Hero and not necessarily the American Lung Association. The Lung Association does not endorse any specific provider, facility or treatment.