This past year has changed all of us...
A CT scan was ordered in May of 2017. When we received the diagnosis of lung cancer. He had gone to the doctor for months prior to the diagnosis, his symptoms pointed to chronic bronchitis, however it was much worse. He lost his ability to use his voice because the cancer pressing against his vocal cords.
It was like a ton of bricks falling on me when my parents came over to tell me the results. Even with the grave news I had hope we could beat this. I remember hugging them and telling them "it's going to be alright"
My mother took a leave of absence from work to be with my father for treatment in Chicago at the Cancer Institute.
I spoke to them after each appointment waiting to hear that mircale news. At this point we were still unsure of the severeness of the cancer. The tests and scans came back to reveal 3B Lung Cancer.
So my father would do treatments throughout the week and then on Friday afternoon they would come home to be with us. On Sunday afternoon it was time to head back to Chicago for treatment.
I don't think it had really sunk in completely until the chemo began. The doctors started a procedure called TomoTherapy an itemized blast to the cancer regions in the lungs.
My once strong father was frail and weak from the chemotherapy and radiation.
It was like losing your best friend... He was so tired and weak. For the first time I coudn't talk to him about how I felt. I was scared, upset and saddened.
For the summer months my parents continued to travel back and forth to Chicago for treatment. He had grown to enjoy his nurses and doctors through this terribleness.
The insurance company decided the initial treatment of TomoTherapy was too new of a procedure so they downgraded his treatment to have insurance cover some of the costs.
However prepared you think you are with savings... It's never quite enough when both people of a household are out of work.
Summer was coming to a close and the Institute wanted my father to return for more chemo and radiation.
He was so weak, his throat and back were burnt from the treatment. The decision as a family was to take a break on returning for more.
He had a feeding tube placed so he could eat and drink because of his throat being so badly burnt from radiation. It was a relief to know he was still able to get his calories and hydration through the tube feedings.
Meanwhile, he began vitamin C treatments to help combat the cancer. When he had arrived home from summer treatments, his memory was in and out... just wasn't himself.
As the chemo began to wear off, he looked good-- almost like the man who raised me... I prayed hard that this was our turn around.
He had energy, his skin color was back and his throat was healing. I could hear his voice for the first time in months. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL TO SEE... and HEAR
My mother was back at work and life seemed the most normal it had been for a while.
In October of 2017 my parents were set for a check up of my father's current status in Madison. They did blood panels and a CT scan... The Wait--
It wasn't what we were looking to hear. The cancers initial diagnosis was in both lungs. When the scan came back the cancer was a mass attached to his bronchial tube-- unoperable with spreading to the lymph nodes.
The doctors were truthful that the odds were not in our favor.
They were going to place a stent in his bronchial tube for better breathing.
He needed to get strong enough to take part in a study where during the stent placement the doctor would scrape the tumor and it would take 4 weeks to begin the study.
During the stent placement my father had a pulmonary embolism. His heart rate went from 40-150. He was kept at the hospital for 2 days until he was regulated...
Throughout all of this my mother has been a champion. She has been there every step of the way, taking in all the moments that come with this disease. Yet still working as much as possible to pay bills.
A week passed and he had a follow up appointment. However, his heart rate dropped back to 40 -150 and was all over the place. He was admitted and they removed fluid off his lungs.
The doctors recommended the study treatment should not take place.
A tube was placed on his back and every 2 days we remove excess fluid from his lungs.
He came home a different man, oxygen attached and disoriented...
The other night I was with my family and we all got to say what I will call a goodbye. He was able to tell us his wishes and that everything is about family and how much he loved us. Those words couldn't be truer.
Through this disease you see anger, sadness, hope, strength, love and guidance to be stronger and thankful for the time you have.
Today we still hope for a miracle, and through everything we have been through as a family... the people that surround us have been wonderful.
Thank you to family, friends, neighbors and our work places for flexibility and understanding.
If there is any way you can help decrease the hardships of this terrible disease your help would greatly be appreciated. All monies will be put forth to soften the debt of living and medical costs incurred throughout the past year.
It will all be okay... spend that time, love your family.
Thank you again, God Bless and Prayers to all affected.
- Helen Shelton
- Mikayla Mraz
- Angie Solverson
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