I Lost My 47 Year Old Aunt to Lung Cancer

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From ex-smoker, Kae:

This is not the sweetest or happiest story, but it does happen. It's hard to fathom how very very devastating this can be until it happens to your family ... until it invades your own life ... until it shows up in your home.

My 47 year old aunt died of lung cancer Tuesday morning at 7 am.

She was beautiful, spunky, and in the prime of her life. She had gorgeous long, curly, thick brown hair and a genuine laugh that was utterly and completely contagious.

Her laugh engaged you so that regardless of what you were doing, you couldn't resist joining in and laughing with her.

She was diagnosed with lung cancer 8 months ago, yesterday. The doctor who diagnosed her advised her she had 8 months to live, and she did. Eight months is truly not a long time. It amounts to a second in our lives, and passes so very quickly.

The cancer began in her lungs and spread throughout her body.

It was aggressive and mean and hateful, and though my aunt was strong and full of fight, the cancer did overcome her. Her body, anyway. Her beautiful mind and soul could never be beat.

She took two rounds of chemotherapy. After the second round, her beautiful hair fell out. Not in clumps or a little at a time, but literally it just kept coming out until it was all gone. After that, she still smiled and laughed and held herself true. She loved all of her family; sisters, nieces, nephews, brothers.

We have a very tight knit family, full of spunk and love and honesty.

I saw Cherie yesterday morning. She was gasping for breath, and didn't know anything else but that she couldn't breathe. Her boyfriend of many years was quietly sitting by her side while other family members cried. Cherie continued to try to breathe - labored breaths.

The night before that, she suffered....confusion surrounding the morphine drip and the nurse. I'm sorry that I couldn't ease her pain. We didn't know until it was too late. She suffered terribly. She is now at peace.

Yes, my aunt did smoke. She smoked and drank all of her life. She smoked after she found out about the cancer. She tried to drink after she found out about the cancer, but could not because the chemotherapy did not go well with alcohol or vice versa.

Yes...she smoked, but no she did not deserve to die the death she had. She did not deserve to die at 47. Her family did not deserve to lose her the way they did.

I would have never thought that my beautiful aunt would be 80 lbs, completely bald, eyes swollen shut from medicine to keep the fluids from overtaking her, and laboring for her last breath. Who are we? Just an average everyday family. It can happen to any of us.

Smoking cessation does make a difference. As smokers (and non-smokers), we can't know whether we'll get lung cancer or not, but quitting tobacco does put the odds more in our favor.  Not to mention how quitting improves quality of life once we've healed from nicotine addiction.

Please quit smoking.  I would hate for you to have to go through what my family (and so many others around the world) have to when a beloved family member gets lung cancer.

I love you, Aunt Cherie.


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