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Becky K

My father worked in the general motors foundry for 35 years. Sadly, in December of 2015, he got what seemed to be a cold and went to the doctor, got a chest x-ray and was told it was pneumonia. In January, he was still coughing and went back to doctor to be told he have bronchitis. In February/March he saw some blood in his urine so he went to the doctor for the third time and was sent to a urologist who did a full examination and more x-rays. Early April, he got all the results and was told everything looked good except they noticed a mass in his lower right lung base. He was referred to a cardiopulmonary specialist who said we need more tests to see what they are dealing with. He had a CT scan more chest x-rays and he was admitted to the hospital for what appeared to be pneumonia again. Sadly 3 days later, he had a bronchoscope and it showed stage 4 lung cancer. It was inoperable and had metastasized.

We were shocked and it was like my family hit a wall. Late April, my dad was discharged and a day later, he had a PET scan that showed that spot was in his lymph nodes. We immediately made appointments in hopes we could keep my Dad with us. May, my dad has his port put in and his first chemo treatment. He was already so weak and tired from the constant coughing but he wanted to fight for his family. He started to lose weight and become really tired - he slept a lot and we tried everything. He was given medicine to help his appetite but sadly this didn't help due to the mouth sores he had. He was in a lot of pain. They gave him new medicine to help because he had already lost so much weight and was barely eating at all. Ice cream, gelatin - maybe some mashed potatoes or soup but not even one meal a day. Again we were hopeful.

Mid-June was his week off and we thought okay, he can start to feel better - build some good cells. The following week, he went in for his third treatment but his WBC count was too high so they were unable. His next doctor appointment was to be July 5. July 1 my mom was up and down with him all night and he was so restless. My mom called me a couple days later in the morning and said she was just exhausted and wanted to rest, I decided to pack a bag and go help and stay with my Dad. I am so thankful I got this night with him. That night, we had to call 911 and my dad was admitted with multiple problems. He was dehydrated and his heart was beating too fast, He needed water yet was retaining a lot. The doctor in the ER said he is very ill. My dad opted for no drastic measures to keep him alive. In the blurry hours of the following morning, the ICU nurse advised us he could lay like that for a few hours to a few days and if we thought of comfort care. His blood oxygen was so low, it was only a matter of time at this point.

My mom did not want to watch the man she had loved for 52 years suffer so we decided on the comfort care. It didn't matter he had maxed out the amount of meds to keep his blood pressure up, his heart rate was down so now it would not be much longer. My dad was on a horrible by-pap machine he had no voice and the look in his eyes of sadness and concern for where he was going and what he was leaving behind still breaks my heart. At 4:55am on July 4 my dad took his final breath and his battle was over. He fought for 75 short days from the day he was diagnosed. I am so proud of him for having the courage to take on that battle. It has been only a short time since I let him go and my heart still hurts. But I will continue to fight for all those still struggling with lung cancer. The chemo, the battle we had for the 75 days was so ugly I hope they find a cure. I walk today for my Dad, my best friend. I walk for those who will continue to fight for every breath.

First published: August 5, 2016

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