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Christine's Story/Stories


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I've been a member of this community for some time now and have finally gotten around to posting MY story, which would be better entitled My STORIES I suppose. I hope that this will give you all a bit of insight to me and my reasons for being here on LCSC and why I am so passionate about supporting others who are facing Lung Cancer.

Obviously this is an abbreviated version of things but it is what I am up to being able to share. To this day I still feel the loss of Brad very deeply and of course having just lost Jerry this year, things are still very raw, very painful and so hard to articulate.

Christine’s Story

My first true experience with Lung cancer was just over 3 years ago. My best friend, a guy who was a vision of health and fitness, someone who took such good care of himself and his body was diagnosed with what turned out to be advanced lung cancer at the age of 31. He had never smoked in his life.

The initial diagnosis was on September 14, 2005. When he told me about this, I just could not believe it! No way could this be happening to Brad. NO WAY.

Unfortunately, it was happening and there was nothing that he nor I or any of the doctors could do. He fought, we fought together, investigating every possible avenue of treatment available to him in Canada.

After numerous treatments, constant nausea and vomiting from the chemo, constant pain and fatigue, numerous blood clots and hospitalizations, numerous failed attempts at trying to at the very least slow the cancer down, it became clear that there was nothing left to do. He saw a specialist in Calgary who went over his records and told him how terribly sorry he was but the only thing he could do was advise Brad to get his affairs in order. That was November of 2005, the week of Thanksgiving here. Over the next few days I was acutely aware of his pain, of the sadness and the fear that he was living with. I did everything I could to keep his spirits up and to be there for him. And amazingly, through all of this, he continued to work and did his best to keep things running smoothly from his office.

On December 9, 2005 we talked for the last time. He asked me to please never give up, to please continue to do what I could to help others who are touched by this horrible disease, cancer. He made me promise to do all that I could.. I promised him that I would.

On December 10, 2005 Brad lost the battle with lung cancer. He was 31 years old. I lost an incredible friend and confidante, and the world lost an amazing and talented engineer, an outstanding athlete and a completely wonderful and purely good human being.

My life has been forever changed for having known him, for having walked the road that cancer took us down and in the end, for having lost him.

I had a very hard time adjusting to this loss. It was actually the first true loss of a peer for me as well as my first real loss to such a miserable and cruel disease. I did find solace in an online grief support group and then began work on my web site. Life got back to some kind of peaceful routine and was going smoothly….. And then it hit again….

~~~~

My step father had not been feeling well for some time and had been hospitalized for a heart problem. It was during this time that a multitude of testing was done and a suspicious spot was found on his lung, This was May 13, 2008. Jerry was 71 and had smoked all of his life.

During the next weeks we fought with the V.A. hospital in an effort to get a diagnosis in order to begin some kind of treatment. We had been told that there was no doubt that it was lung cancer but until a biopsy was done, we would not know the type or stage and no treatment could be done. It was a very, very frustrating and infuriating battle as we watched helplessly as Jerry continued his steady decline and the doctors were doing nothing! This story is chronicled here on the site so I won’t go into all of the gory details again.

Jerry remained in the hospital for the better part of a month, finally getting a diagnosis of non small cell lung cancer which had metastasized to the kidneys, liver and into his esophagus making swallowing and talking nearly impossible. Finally the oncologist recommended radiation to the tumor in the esophagus to ease the pain and difficulty swallowing to be followed by chemo. Jerry opted to sign himself out of the hospital and go home under the care of Hospice. This was an acceptable plan as he would be more comfortable at home in familiar surroundings and he was going to be on Tarceva which is a pill that he could take at home with no need for IV infusions.

We got him home on July 25 and he was as comfortable as we could make him. He had oxygen around the clock as well as Hospice nurses checking in frequently. He was still not able to talk due to the tumor in his airway but he communicated as best he could through whispers and gestures and we knew he was happy to be home. He had one good day where he ate and drank and was very much at peace. That was Friday, July 27. Saturday was sheer hell. Jerry could not breathe, he was in pain and so restless. He did not eat or drink. We called the nurse and she told us that he was in the last stages of life and had begun the dying process. He died in my mothers arms in the early morning hours of July 29th.

As was the case with Brad, it was almost 3 months from the date of diagnosis until his death. I am haunted to this day by the similarities in the two losses. And, again, my life will never be the same……

Lung Cancer. It seems that when you tell people about the diagnosis the first thing they want to know is whether the person was a smoker. In my cases here, one was, one was not. Many people who have never smoked are diagnosed with Lung cancer and regardless, nobody, smokers or non smokers DESERVE this disease. We need to work to erase this negative image, the ugly stigma that is attached to this horrid disease and raise awareness that this cancer kills more people every year than many others, including breast cancer, combined.

Lung Cancer does not discriminate. It does not care if you smoke or not, if you are tall or short, rich or poor, heavy or thin. It strikes all walks of life and does not care.

We need to raise awareness and fight for more and better research, earlier detection and better treatments and not stop until the cure is found.

Brad and Jerry? I won’t stop what I am doing and your deaths are not and never will be in vain.

Thank you for reading this and I pray that NOW there is a better understanding of me and what I am here to do.

~Christine

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