Thursday, February 24, 2011


I have spent most of my life in fear that one day one of my parents would get lung cancer.  I knew, even as a child, the dangers of smoking.  I tried with every ounce of my being to get them to quit more times than I care to count. 

Until I stopped trying.

It was too hard to keep hoping they would.  I had to let go of any expectation that they would ever do it for me or for the kids.  I had to hope that one day they would quit because it was the right thing to do for their own health. But I had to stop waiting for it. 

The fear never went away, though.

And then one fall day in 2009 my father told me over the phone that they found something on the MRI of his shoulder, just barely within the range of the image. 

My worst fear came true.  The thing that I dreaded appeared.  I knew months before any official diagnosis what was wrong.  I knew it in my soul.  I knew it was lung cancer.  And I knew it had spread.

Then my fear shifted. 

One fear confirmed, another began.

I started to fear the end.  I was afraid that he would be in pain.  And he was.  It was excruciating to watch, I can't even begin to imagine what it was like for him.

I was afraid that he would be there and I would be here and it would be over without my having a chance to say goodbye.  That fear, thankfully, was never realized.  I held my father's hand as he took his last breath. 

Now, I find a new fear.  Of the unknown.  Of the future.  Of what it holds.  Of where we go from here.  Of how we cross these bridges without him.

It's hard to be afraid without him here.

If you smoke, please quit. 

I'm not going to get on any soapbox and preach.  I'm not going to make an issue of it with anyone.  I'm not going to point fingers or assign blame.  But I'm also not going to get my hopes up again.

I just know what this disease did.  And I know the easiest way to prevent it.


  1. Agree, agree, agree. I lost my Dad to a heart attack much too early. While it was not directly tied to smoking, it was tough evidence to refute.

    If you smoke, please quit.

  2. I cared for my mother at the end of her battle. The cancer in her brain is what finally took her life. I will never forget how it felt to watch cancer take my mom from me one brain cell at a time. And it all was 100% preventable. Unbearably pointless. She was only 60 and missed my wedding, two beautiful grandchildren and SO many years of life. I mourn all that will never be, and miss my mom everyday.

  3. I meant to say that I cared for her at the end of her lung cancer battle - just to be clear. ;)
    Since I'm back, I just want to say "Thank You Ms. DeBie" for your heart felt words even the follow up articles.


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