On February 27, 2011 at 10:45 am (California time), my mom Susan passed away from complications arising from lung cancer. She was 68 years and 2 days old.
It's hard to believe she's not with us any more and I'm still pretty numb.
She was first diagnosed about 4 or so years ago. But there's no telling how long she had it prior to that time. It was a slow-growing form of cancer and it was deemed very treatable. She went through surgery to remove one lobe of the affected lung, and went through chemo and radiation therapy, which she tolerated well. After going through her course of treatment, she was said to be cancer-free. She was only required to return to her oncologist once every 6 months for a follow-up PET scan.
Recently, she had problems getting tired easily and was short of breath. My dad took her to the doctor and they discovered there was a buildup of fluid around her lung and heart. We were told this was a bad sign that the cancer had potentially returned. The fluid was tested and found to contain cancerous cells.
The fluid build up was severe enough that the doctor decided to have her go through another surgery to cut a "window" in her pericardial sac to allow fluid to drain naturally so it wouldn't put pressure on her heart.
After recovering at home for a few weeks from this procedure, she was again getting very fatigued and out of breath. My dad brought her back to the hospital again and she was diagnosed with pneumonia. After some other tests they found the cancer had spread to her other lung and lymphatic system.
After a few days in the hospital, she lapsed into an unresponsive state late on Friday, February 25th, her 68th birthday. A day and a half later, she passed on, never regaining consciousness. My dad, Bob, and my younger brother Adam were at her side at the end. I had no opportunity to make it out to California before she went, but my dad held his cell phone up to her ear on Saturday afternoon so I could say what would be my last words to her.
She was a wonderful mother and wanted nothing but the best for my brother and sister and I. She was not thrilled with my choice to join the military years ago! But as I had retired on January 1st, she knew that part of my life was over and I was "safe."
I miss you, Mom. The family somehow seems much smaller than the loss of one person should allow.
If you're a person of faith, please keep my dad in mind as he begins to bear going on without her.