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Rhonda V.

My story is about my mom who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer on July 3, 2014 and lost her battle seven weeks later. She was the dearest, most caring and giving person on the planet and there was nothing worse than watching her gasp and struggle for that last breath. My mother smoked for most of her life and although she tried to quit many times, she just couldn't beat the urge. We all understand and forgive her for that because everyone is aware that smoking is a very hard habit to break. She complained for several months about a cough that she couldn't get rid of and contributed it to a bad cold or allergies. Then after several weeks she started to feel shortness of breath and complained of a backache. The shortness of breath was so severe that one evening she ended up in the emergency room.

After a few X-rays, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted into the hospital that evening. The next day an MRI was taken at which time a four-inch tumor was spotted on the lower lobe of her right lung. The doctor told her she had lung cancer. She was released from the hospital with an appointment to visit an oncologist the following week. The oncologist read the complete results of her MRI and told her frankly that she had maybe six months to live with or without chemotherapy. My family's immediate reaction was to get a second opinion and then to start the chemo. When the doctor showed us the results of the PET scan, we knew at that moment that no second opinion was going to change the outcome that we were facing. The lung cancer had already spread from the lung to the liver, kidney, stomach, lymph nodes, hip and spine.

The doctor, in so many words, told us that the cancer was detected too late and that she had only a few weeks to live. Needless to say, we were all shocked. She had just had a clean lung screening a year ago. We stayed by her side, comforting her and telling her how much we love her. My only question still today is, "Why couldn't they have caught it earlier?" I wish I had the answer and that is why I've taken the PLEDGE for fighters like my mom who were diagnosed too late. My passion is as strong today as it was the day she was diagnosed and I will always be a part of the FORCE to raise awareness and increase the funding that is so desperately needed for lung cancer research.

First published: February 10, 2020

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