LUNG FORCE Heroes
Here's my story. Yes, my Dad was a smoker. But he had stopped for 20+ years ago. He died from lung cancer 2 years ago at the age of 83. Last week my 69 year old husband was diagnosed with Non-Smoker Lung Cancer! My husband has worked around aviation (military and commercial) for 45 years, but he was always a non-smoker!!
I insisted he have a chest X-ray every year during his physical, because he had been subjected to so many years of secondhand smoke. Either as a Vietnam Vet Piloting a C-130 cargo plane that often carried Agent Orange. Or as a Customer Service Agent who had passengers blowing smoke directly across his ticket counter. Plus, our family flew many commercial flights as benefits from the airlines, most often seated directly behind the smoking section of the most aircraft - known as the "Non-rev" section - no matter the number of flight hours to a destination.
Four years ago my husband told his doctor that he felt he was experiencing restricted breathing. He followed instructions to get additional blood, heart, respiratory, and sleep tests for over 2 years...all test results came back negative, for any problems. He learned to live with the restricted breath for another 2 years - until last March 1st (my birthday).
That day, I had to take him to the ER for severe chest pains. Again all tests showed negative, except for one kidney stone. We had 3 more ER visits with his same chest/breastbone pain to 3 different hospital in Dallas/Fort Worth. Again, they always told him that his tests showed him fine. Until our last ER visit last month to the original ER we had gone to... We had 11 days of both of us staying at the hospital with nights of horrendous pain (that I can tell u looked worse than my 2 childbirth labors) every 30 seconds, while he was actually on IV Dilaudid!
Finally, we were told they had found a quarter size spot on the middle of his lung - the biopsy proved it malignant. It was even being sent to Mayo Clinic for further review. But what about the horrific pain he was experiencing? The hospital Oncologist, then explained his pain was coming from lesions on his vertebrae that were metastasized from the lung cancer, causing his T-6 vertebrae to collapse in a compression fracture. He is now diagnosed with Stage 4 Adenocarcinoma non-small cell lung cancer.
After 4 days of practically NPO (no food/drink by mouth) and losing 10 pounds plus rescheduling the kyphoplasty (cementing the collapsed disc) 4 times, he finally had the actual procedure. He felt much better the day after the non-invasive surgery. But the following 5 days were still very painful ones recouping at home. His next step Is coming this week to have 10 radiation treatments for the lung cancer. He will hopefully take Opdivo for the rest of his life to manage the malignant lesions or any recurring lung cancer (as best I understand it).
We saw our Attorney to update our will today with much ANXIETY. In one very quick day, our plans for him to retire (finally when I reached 65 years old) in 4 short months have changed forever... We are keeping positive thoughts, requesting prayers for a complete healing and complete knowledge for his doctors/medical teams to experience a miracle of healing, so that we may enjoy and watch our 3 toddler grandchildren grow.
First published: November 8, 2016
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