Thursday, November 14, 2013


November is Lung Cancer Awareness month & truth be told, I was never AWARE of anything lung cancer until my mom was diagnosed this past January.    I hate that I knew so little before and even during her diagnosis/battle.  I hate that I dismissed her fears whenever she'd bring them to me... I hate that I didn't FORCE her to get that chest x-ray that Christmas when we were going shopping.   She just had a chest cold, right?  Doc was looking for pneumonia, right?   WRONG.   How stupid of me.  I knew nothing.....and I'm not ashamed to say so, just pissed off.

We never knew - 
I've always been the kind of gal that loves to capture the moment in pictures.  I have so many photo albums and loose pictures in photo boxes at home, my husband thinks I'm a pack rat.  I say I'm sentimental.    Pictures capture life in a way that's so amazing.   I rarely forget anything but if I do forget a special moment or event, it's not long before I land upon a photo that brings it all back.
Lately, I've been finding pictures of Mom all over the place. -  Most are ones that have always been out in the open, whether on Facebook or in my house in a frame... but it's the older ones that make me stop in my tracks. 
I find myself wondering, in all those photos, if Mom had lung cancer back then.    What we know of the type of lung cancer she did have, it was Non Small Cell, which doctors told us was the slower growing type.   That makes me believe that Mom had this lung cancer for years before it was detected.   And then, hearing it was inoperable, because it had invaded her chest wall, it really confirmed that this tumor had long set up camp years back.   So, yes, now I look at photos of Mom, through the past few years, and I study it, wondering if she had the beginnings of lung cancer back then and we never knew it. I literally ask myself EACH and EVERY time I see a photo now. And it's getting to the point of obsessing about it.
I have to know!  That bastard tumor was there, while we danced at my wedding, when my niece started kindergarten, when my sister graduated nursing school?  Fucker.   But she looked so healthy too... Makes no sense.

My stomach drops every time I see her in a photo at a party, or a dance recital, or a BBQ, and I realize that she'd already had lung cancer. 
All those months or years ago, it could have been detected.  But yet, it wasn't.   Mom never had any symptoms, other than what we thought might have been a cold, or the usual smoker's cough.   Nope, we found out all too late.  And not even because she was being checked for a lung condition.   She had been diagnosed with breast cancer, that we were confident she could beat, and it was during her pre-op testing that they found the lung tumor on a chest x-ray.   What the hell?    I still remember  the medical secretary from the breast surgeon's office calling me - she said I had to get Mom to the ER right then, because her chest x-ray results were "off the wall".   Kind of a strange play on words for a medical professional but I realized later that it was pretty alarming to see. (which I eventually did).      The tumor had literally consumed her left lung and had weighed it down.   Seeing the x-ray?   Bizarre.     
I can honestly say that I knew little to nothing about lung cancer until my mom was diagnosed.  I'm disgusted to find out that there is so little awareness for it and even less funding.   It sucks that, more often than not, lung cancer is found in the late stage(s).  By the time most people are diagnosed, the cancer is already advanced and the survival rates are so discouraging.   This has to change - We need to help make that change.    This month, shout it from the roof tops, post it all over social media ... Make your voice heard for everyone affected by lung cancer.   Talk to friends and family who smoke and even those who don't, but might be exhibiting some of the tell-tale symptoms.   Anyone can get lung cancer, not just smokers.   Yes, my mom did smoke, but she didn't deserve lung cancer.   She DID deserve to enjoy her grandchildren, to finally win at bingo, to enjoy more bonfires in my backyard, to see the fireworks on New Year's Eve.....
*I'm raising my voice this November & I want to be heard*  


  1. We drive ourselves crazy once we have learned that our loved ones are sick and quite possibly, their illnesses could have been either prevented or detected early. I know it must bang away at your mind and beat endlessly at your broken heart but try not to dwell on the "what ifs" my dear Dawn. Hell, I know it's easier said then done, and who am I to tell you how to cope or deal with the pain. But even though I haven't lost my own mother yet due to a disease which could have been both prevented and detected earlier (especially if more awareness was brought about concerning alcoholism and liver disease), I know what it feels like to have been damn near close. There was once a time when I even started thinking about her eulogy and what I would say to make others understand that my mom's mistakes didn't define her kindness and loveliness as a person.
    We go through periods in our life, especially after such a traumatic and irreplaceable loss, which we can't help but to let our minds and hearts venture back to the past. This is why pictures are so important. I've always kept countless albums and photos categorized by time and lost moments. Sometimes, people don't understand why people like us keep them. But that's just it; it's not something that everyone in this world appreciates. I love a good photo! And not just on Facebook. I mean the real deal. Scattered in front of us; like boundless bundles of joy, admiration and funny moments. Pieces of ourselves painted so we can always remember the beauty and legacies that those who have left us behind have lived and shared.
    And always know that you have an ear and heart right over here to catch your tears and listen to your woes. God bless you always my friend! And Mom too!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Gina! I think it gets a little easier every day. I did write my mom's eulogy and I decided to leave out anything to do with how she died. I never even mentioned it -- it wasn't who she was and I wouldn't let her death define her LIFE. Most people who attended her services never even knew Mom was 'sick' .. so I didn't dare spill the beans that Mom never wanted to spill while she was here.


Hi, thanks for YOUR thoughts on MY thoughts! Happy reading!