MAKE SOME NOISE for lung cancer awareness

Spotlight On Courageous Caregivers

Ask any lung cancer patient what the most important thing to have on this journey and most will tell you, their family, friends and CAREGIVERS.

This page is devoted and dedicated to those heroes, our Courageous Caregivers. 

To get this started, I am sharing my stories. Yes, stories, plural....

My name is Christine.. These are my stories.

 

Christine’s Story

My first true experience with Lung cancer was just over 5 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 this 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 VA 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 in my blog 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 mother’s 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.

 

You may have noticed the word true in bold type and underlined in the opening paragraph. That's because even before Brad, my life was touched by lung cancer. At 17, my step grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died within 3 months of his diagnosis. I was so young and naive back then. I guess I just never realized how serious this disease is and how prevalent.

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

~ Always, Christine

Becky Spurlock-Harphant's Story

Watching My Mom Fight Lung Cancer

by Becky Spurlock-Harphant on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 11:34pm

It all started September 11, 2008... My mom had an appointment for a lung transplant evaluation  at Ohio State Medical Center. Her Lung Specalist had referred her due to her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. After a long day of tests, she had to go speak with a doctor about the results. She came out of the doctors office and put her head on the table and cried. I wasn't sure at this point what was going on but I knew it wasn't good. I didn't pressure her to talk about it. I knew she would tell me when she was ready.

Later that evening when we were at home she told me and my brother, Dusty, that they had found a spot on her lung and that she would be going back to Ohio State for treatment. This was the begining of a long journey for us all. I'm not sure on the dates or exactly what happened first, second or so on but my mind was in a fog.

I know the first few weeks they lasered as much of the tumor as they could. That first laser surgery is when it hit me that my mom had lung cancer. I called my husband and just cried telling him that I never thought I would be sitting at a cancer hospital. Noone I have ever known has had cancer. I never, ever drove on the highway and she told me I had to drive her home and I was a little nervous but I was determined to get her home. Of course we made it and I love highway driving now. I drive her to every appointment and have only missed one.

They gave her some treatment where she couldn't go out in the sun and if she did, she had to be completly covered up. It was during this time that we had to go hunting for a wig cause we knew she would be starting chemo. We found a beautiful wig that looked exactly like her hair. She ended up not wearing the wig at all. She didn't need to. She was beautiful with or without hair.

Now comes the most dreaded part, chemo. Her first chemo was the scariest day of my life. After the chemo treatment, she had to go have an inhaled antibiotic. My and my brother, Dusty, was out in the waiting area and all of a sudden we hear "code blue" room 213 (not sure of the room number), we just looked at each other like "no, that's not moms room" and we went back to what we was doing. About 20 minutes later a doctor comes out and tells us we need to go to this room so he can talk to us. Of course we were expecting the worse but turns out she was allergic to the antibiotic and quit breathing. She was put on a ventilator but luckily came off of it after three days.

Her following chemo treatments went alot better than that one. After the second one, her hair started to come out and she asked Dusty to just go ahead and shave it for her. She took the hair loss very well, but I know it was hurting who deep down.

Well she finished her chemo in February 2009 and has been very lucky since then. She goes for scans every two months and the doctors are amazed that she has been doing so well. Her COPD still causes her to have a hard time breathing and some days are worse than others. She makes the most of it though and has a very good atttitude and extreme sense of humor.

Mom enjoys her family and grandkids. We all go the my sisters, Ambers, for dinner once a week. Dusty stays with her and helps with the chores and I still take her to her appointments. Everyone helps where needed.

It's been three years since she was diagnosed. It's been rough watching what cancer will do to a loved one. Sometimes I don't know what to do or say but I think just being there means the most to her.  Moms taught me alot about Faith, Hope, and Love (especially the last three years). I have also learned to never take anything or anyone for granted. I Love You Mom.

 

 

 Becky and her Mom, Debra

Ray's Story

My name is Ray Naylor, I live in Lowman, NY. In August of 2010 my mom was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Of course like any family getting this type of news, we were needless to say stressed, and scared. The next few days were a blur. I was 2,000 miles away from my mom (she lived in AZ). I was unable to sleep, or eat. I felt so helpless. As everybody knows a lung cancer diagnoses ensures 'certain death'. I looked all over the internet for answers, news, new treatments, only to be deadended. Lung cancer I would hear, "well she must of smoked, she deserved it." I had no one to help in my pursuit to save the life of the woman who gave me life. One day I was on facebook and decided to do a search and simply typed in "Lung Cancer." I came upon the page 'Make Some Noise....For Lung Cancer.' I figured what the heck, no one else seemed to be able to help, so I posted on the wall. Well I recieved an answer almost immediately. The moderators name is Christine Dwyer, and this woman has been an angel to me. Throughout this roller coaster of a battle my family went through, Chris and her noise makers were right by my side the whole way. Sending me information through the mail, and emailing me articles. Everytime I had a question Chris posted to Noise facebook page of anyone who may have gone through the same thing. We had dozens of answers in a matter of hours of caring people telling us what worked for them.
My mom lost her battle to lung cancer on 2/29/12, just two hours after my birthday ended, at a hospice center in Tucson surrounded by her family. Of course one of the first people I reached out to was Chris. She informed all of her noisemakers, and they, along with my other friends flooded my facebook page with condolences. Like I said before Chris is my angel. Through this battle Chris and I became personal friends, this is why I feel that the things that she has done for the lung cancer fighters, survivors, and families is important to me. Chris was able to get the NIagra Falls Park offices to agree to illuminate the falls pearl in November. Pearl is the color for lung cancer, and November is lung cancer awareness month. I for one will do what I need to do to support awareness for this horrible form of cancer.

 

 

Adina's Story

My mother, Debbie, passed away at the age of 48 from lung cancer 3 years ago, her birthday would have been this Monday, November 11.  

Since her passing I have learned a ton about lung cancer .. like it kills 4 times as many women as breast, colon and uterine cancers COMBINED ... yet its the least funded cancer.  No wonder the survival rate is less... LESS then 5%!!  

There is not a lot go her story. She was 48, perfectaly healthy. Found a lump in her neck went to the doctor. He said it was cancer but that it was a secondary location.

He ran a few scans found she was state 4b non small cell cancer that had spread from her lungs to her lymph nodes, liver and brain.

 

He gave her 3 weeks to live and she was gone 3 weeks later.

That was April 14th 2009, she would be 52 on November 11th.

 

 

 

 

Ashley W's story

This is my story on how Lung Cancer and Brain cancer effected my life and took another life.

As young children, we do not think our parents will be taken from us ever. My father was one of those guys that i thought would always be there with me and never leave me. On feb. 14, 2011 I got that phone call that changed my life forever.

My father called me from the hospital and told me that he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Unknowing to me, once i contacted the rest of my siblings and we all got to the hospital together my father also had a grape sized tumor in his brain as well.
 
At the time the drs. believed it was a cancerous tumor that traveled up from the lungs. It was a shock that shook the whole family. My father started treatments right away and for a few months he was very sick and lost so much weight i was dumbfounded on how he appeared. He was so lively and now, my father was a walking skeleton with no life to live at least that is how he felt and there was nothing I could do for him to make him feel better.
 
Weeks go by with him being in and out of the hospital because to the reactions to the chemo treatments and medications it came to the point where his drs could do no more for him and sent him to Pittsburgh hospitals in Pittsburgh PA. My parents stayed with my sister throughout the treatments. We got to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years with him. There were moments there that he was “tolerable” and other days it felt like a living nightmare. The treatments and mind altering drugs really changed my father. He was a different person.There for awhile he was placed in a nursing home because my sister nor my mother could control him nor his temper, even the hospice nurses that came in to care for my father could not control his anger at times.
 
He started treatment via the Gamma Knife but he never truly recovered from that and in his last hours the family was by his side, we kept him as comfortable as possible, he never spoke a word but he knew you were there as he took his last breaths he died in my sister’s home on March 10, 2012. We were by his side as he took his last breaths but it is never easy to lose a loved one.
 
I think of my father every day, because of him, I stopped smoking the day he was diagnosed with lung cancer and brain cancer. I love my father very much and i miss him dearly. Cherish every moment you got, even if they are hard to deal with. I learned that the hard way but i was honored that i was by my father's side as he took his last breaths and although it sounds morbid but i have pictures of my father a few hours before he passed and i have them in a scrap book and those were the last pictures i have of him to remember him by.
 
Cancer has taught me we all die someday. Not only does cancer affect that person that has it but it affects everyone around them. Cancer is not something to joke about and it is not to be taken lightly. Be thankful for those in your life, because one day they may not be here. My father, even on his deathbed taught me a life lesson. Children and Grandchildren can do amazing things for you if you just open your eyes and heart. I have my moments, the good and the bad, but when i look at my child everything bad just disappears.
 
That is my story on how Lung cancer and brain cancer/ tumors have had an impact on me.
 
 

Tiffini's Story

 

How Lung Cancer Changed My Life

07/10/2012


 
There are so many days in our lives that make an impact, that change us, some good, some bad. The day you get married, the day a child is born, the day someone tells you that your 57 year old mother has stage 4 lung cancer. September 2, 2008 changed our lives forever. Over Labor Day weekend, my mom thought that she had pulled a muscle, because her side was hurting so bad. She wasn’t one to complain, so I knew it must have been bad for her to go to the walk in clinic. That trip to the urgent care center, turned into a trip to the emergency room, which turned into a week in the hospital. My mother, my best friend had stage 4 lung cancer with mets to the lymph nodes and to her rib. My world would be forever changed.

I remember being sad, scared, angry. Why her, why us? My dad had passed away in March 2007, how could this be happening. The first thing I did, was scour the internet...BIG mistake! Nothing good is found on the internet, not to mention I am a nurse, and sometimes ignorance is bliss and knowledge is definitely not power! One of those first nights in the hospital, after she got the diagnosis, I remember laying in the bed with her and she promised she would fight this monster with everything in her, that she would never give up. My mother did fight, and she never gave up. With the help of Dr. Mudad and the Memorial Cancer Institute, we were given 19 months with her. We went to disney 3 times (one of her favorite places), celebrated 2 Christmases, many birthdays and her and I went on a cruise...these are memories that I will always cherish.
 
Through all of the treatment, she kept a positive attitude, she was determined not to be a statistic. She used to tell me that God didn’t put an expiration date on her, so neither should we. She was an amazing woman with an amazing spirit. She lived for her family, and loved us with every ounce of her soul. She was a mother, daughter, sister, wife, friend and Nana. She rarely complained, even though the chemo and radiation were causing havoc with her body. The first thing she wanted to do when she found out she was sick, was try to figure out how to help other people. But that was her, she would rather do for others then have someone do for her. I know it was difficult for her to have our roles reversed. I became the caretaker...she used to constantly apologize, she hated feeling needy. I wouldn’t have it any other way

April 9, 2010 my mother earned her angel wings, to forever be in the arms of my dad, her soul mate, and watch over us. While the loss of my mom has been devastating, I know that she is here with me in spirit. It is her love that drives me everyday and her love that sparks my passion in the fight against lung cancer.
 
Whenever someone asks how my mom passed away, I tell them she had lung cancer. Always, they tilt their head and then say “oh! she smoked!” Why should that matter, does it take my pain away, did she deserve to get lung cancer because she once smoked. What if I told you that she started smoking when she was 15 when her and a group of her friends went to Pirate’s World, and someone offered her a cigarette, nobody knew then how bad it was for you. Does that make it ok. What if I told you that she quit, cold turkey, in 1992...to prevent getting sick. Does that make it ok? What if I told you that she was a vegetarian, healthy, and made regular visits to her doctor. Does that make it ok? The first question out of everyone’s mouth when they hear she had lung cancer should not be, was she a smoker. The fact is that IT DOES NOT MATTER! She, nor anyone else deserves to get lung cancer. Why did she get lung cancer, BECAUSE SHE HAD LUNGS. Anyone can get it and everyone is at risk. What other cancer or disease is blamed for their ailment. When someone suffers a heart attack do you question their eating habits, when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, do you drill her about her life choices; whether she had kids or breastfed. Do a search on google for smoking risks and practically everything is listed, not just lung cancer.

We have to make a difference together. EDUCATE people, let them know that they don’t have to smoke to get it, but if they did or do, they don’t deserve it. The statistics stink, but they don’t have to.  If we educate people on the signs and symptoms and encourage them to have conversations with their doctors about risk factors we can make a difference. Even if you enlighten ONE person on the facts, they will tell someone, then that person will tell someone and it creates a domino effect of awareness. We need to raise our voices, create a unified front, a power to be reckoned with. Together we can diminish the stigma and help eradicate this horribly misunderstood and woefully underfunded disease. 

My mom didn't lose her battle to Lung Cancer, she passed it on to us and we must NEVER give up the fight!
 
 

Linda's Story

My Story by Linda Eichacker

I became involved in spreading awareness about lung cancer after attending Making Strides Against
Breast Cancer last year in Indianapolis.  My daughter and granddaughter attended with me honoring my
grandmother and celebrating my niece being a breast cancer survivor.  It was a beautiful day with upbeat
music playing, pink everywhere, dancing, celebrating, and so many people were there.    

As we were leaving I mentioned to my daughter that we should do the same for lung cancer as we have a
history of LC in our family.  That started my search and I really didn't have much luck but I kept looking.  I
finally found Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Vigil in Indianapolis which is near my home.  I contacted the
organizers and decided to attend along with my daughter and granddaughter.  It was so very different.  They
were very excited for the couple hundred people in attendance as they expected only about 30.  The room
was very crowded.  The candle light vigil was very moving.  We were very thankful for the survivors but most
were honoring those lost to lung cancer.

The vigil was the beginning of my journey to share awareness about lung cancer.  I started with creating
my page, What I Have Learned, to share facts about LC.  Since Nov. 2011 I have had my home tested for
radon,  my husband & I are participating in a cancer study with ACS (CPS-3), had a new blood test for lung
cancer detection (EarlyCDT-Lung), became a staunch supporter of Lung Cancer Alliance, found other events
for LC awareness, and discovered many others share my passion for spreading lung cancer awareness.  My
hope is that we end the stigma linked to LC, obtain more funding for LC research, earlier diagnosis, better
treatment, and ultimately a cure.

I will be attending Shine a Light Vigil again this year and my grandson will be attending with me.  We will
be honoring many family members & friends, celebrating survivors, and supporting those currently fighting
cancer.

 

Thank you for letting me share my story.  It is only the beginning. Everything I do is so, hopefully, my
children and grandchildren will never be faced with this horrible disease.

 

 

 

 Linda's Father and Uncle