Shine a Light- 129 Days

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

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As many of you know, my husband, Kramer, was diagnosed with lung cancer on January 24 of this year.  He died 129 days later.

Thursday of last week Kalissa and I went to Gundersen Clinic in Lacrosse where they were hosting a “Shine the Light” program.  Kalissa was one of the speakers there.

Kalissa and I have vowed that we will do what we can to “shine a light” on lung cancer.  This includes advocating for people to get a chest CT scan.  We both like to think if his cancer had been caught sooner that we might still have him here with us.

There were a few speakers….

Some talked about personal experience.  Some told the medical facts.  Did you know that lung cancer in non-smoking young women is on a rise.  If you or a daughter or friend is experiencing fatigue and coughing type symptoms that seems like pneumonia that continues to reoccur, it’s time for you to encourage a simple chest CT scan.

Looking back to Kramer, I can say that this was him.  How did we not know?

Check out the image below…

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Were you aware of that?

Did you know that 1 in 15 of us will be diagnosed with lung cancer?

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I sure didn’t.

When we were there they were handing out white bracelets.  Kalissa and I grabbed one.  Later sitting at the table I realized she had taken hers off.  She whispered to me, “read it”.  It said, “your lungs, your choice”.

UGH.  I took mine off too.  I wasn’t impressed.  I know that it is my lungs and my choice.  I also know that the choice isn’t that easy for smokers.  I watched Kramer try and try and try to quit.  He seriously tried everything.  I know it was still his choice but it’s not as easy as the word choice.  I think of choice as “do I want a pepsi or and orange pop?”  I think it should be the word “battle” vs “choice”.

A bit later Kalissa had mingled and came back and gave me this bracelet. On this side it says, “Empower Everyone.”

On the other is says, “Ignore no one”.

Okay…I like this one MUCH better.

I wish people would understand how turned off a smoker would be by the first bracelet and how encouraged with blue bracelet.  Kalissa and I sure were and we don’t smoke.

Kalissa did a great job on her presentation.  They videotaped it and it will eventually be online.  We’ll tell you about it when it is.

She makes a point in the video that I want to add here….

If you are over age 55 OR if you have quit smoking within the past 15 years OR if you are currently smoking OR if you have a 30 pack year history, you qualify for a lung cancer screening which is a simple non-invasive CT scan. It takes about 30 seconds total.  It’s that simple.  You could know if you have lung cancer.

If you have a smoker in your life or a person with a cough and pneumonia type recurring symptoms with fatigue, please have an honest conversation with them.  Tell them you love them.  Tell them you’d like them to get a chest CT scan.  Tell them you’re coming from this from a place of love, not nagging. (but then don’t nag).  Your advocating to them might just save a life.

I looked at that statistic, 1 in 15 of us will get lung cancer.  That’s scary.  I know what we went through with Kramer.  I know it’s hard.  I don’t want that to be any of you or your loved ones.  Please thoughtfully consider getting a chest CT scan if you fit in the criteria Kalissa spoke about.

As a mom, I’m so proud of Kalissa to do this.  A big ago on her blog she talked about the box and the ball as a way to grieve.  You can find that HERE.  Getting ready to speak at this event made Kalissa (and my) ball very big.  It was a tough time for us both.  We didn’t want to relive and open the wound of Kramer’s lung cancer but did in the hopes that if we can help one person, and their family make it well beyond the 129 days we had with Kramer, it will be worth it.

12 thoughts on “Shine a Light- 129 Days”

  1. Yes, I agree with you and I disagree with you. I think the word ‘choice’ is the correct one. Certainly I agree Kramer ‘tried’ and ‘tried’ to quit smoking. Yes, I agree it is so hard. But, it was his choice no matter the outcome. Should you and your children have performed an intervention, a seance, a prayer circle, ‘anything’ to convince him that smoking not only hurt him but you. Spiritually and physically. Would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. You didn’t and he didn’t. So, he died much too young. Leaving a young woman a widow, your children partial orphans and grandchildren with a dim memory of their grandfather. That is the message to smokers. Death is a moment, mourning is forever.
    I smoked four packs a day for 45 years. I tried and tried and tried. It took tough love from the people who cared. I quit but probably too late. But, I suddenly realized I was hurting more than myself. I am sure Kramer realized that also. That is the message smokers need to hear.

  2. Jo, I have been following you for several years now. Thank you for all that you share with us. I love reading about you and your wonderful family. I am a quilter also.
    My husband quit smoking about 20 years ago. He had a CT scan last week and they found a small spot on his right lung. His PET scan is scheduled for next week. This is so scary. We are just hoping for the best.

    1. Hang in there Louise. You all can do this!! A small spot is do-able. I heard of a lady at the Shine the light even last week that had a small spot surgically removed and didn’t need chemo or radiation. Sounds like you caught it early..that’s the best!!

  3. I love all of this, Jo. My Dad quit many times, but the cigarettes got him back every time. It made us all sad, and him too, but we didn’t blame him. He died of renal cancer, a smoking related cancer, in his early 60s. I support the need for more positive treatment of smokers. You have made so many good points in this post and others. Thank you for all the good you are doing!

  4. Mary Etherington

    I have to agree with Gayle – I quit more than once, too, but finally attended Smoke Stoppers and that did it for me. What about you and your family who have been breathing second hand smoke all those years? I worry about all of you that lived with Kramer’s smoke and if there’s anyone else in your family who is currently a smoker, what will you do to convince them? Don’t quit trying to get them to see that they, too, are hurting others, not just themselves.

  5. Thank you for being so honest and open with us – and thank you for all you do to make others aware of this type of cancer. I just know it will help someone!
    Love and prayers

  6. I just found out that a dear person in my life, a nonsmoker, has been diagnosed with lung cancer. This was a timely post. My first husband, a sister, and several of my good friends smoke. I accept them as they are, although it hurts to know how it is affecting their health. I have heard their deep coughing in the morning and see how it limits them. I am grateful that I never started, growing up in a time when smoking was acceptable and cool, because I don’t know if I could quit. Thank you again for sharing, Jo. Thinking of you and your family and sending you love.

  7. I look forward to hearing Kalissa speech and I think it was wonderful that you both attended, it must of been difficult to do. Bravo to you both, if it helps just one person, its a win.

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