Laurianne's Hope

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Laurianne's Story

Although this blog is mostly for my dad to share information about my sister and lung cancer, I wanted to share her story with you. Last names have been omitted. I gave this speech on November 4th at the Cancer Survivor Park in Santa Rosa, CA for Shine a Little Light on Lung Cancer. My sister was debating speaking at this event before she died. I decided to write and deliver a speech in her memory. My dad and nephew were on the stage with me. People from Washington D.C. were supposed to be in attendance, so I hope I impressed them as well.

My name is Lynda, and I am standing here with my father, Henry, and my sister’s 5 month old son Calem. My sister, Laurianne, called me just 2 weeks ago to tell me about the Shine a Light on Lung Cancer event. She was debating whether or not she should speak about her experience with lung cancer. Unfortunately, the following day, October 22, my sister died due to complications of the disease. I am here today to be her voice.

My sister grew up in a non-smoking household. She lived a short time in New York, but did not work or live in a smoking environment. Laurianne was an avid swimmer and would swim several miles at a time. In November 2004, she told me she was pregnant with my nephew, Calem. Just one month after that, she was diagnosed with pregnancy-related asthma.

Laurianne’s asthma got so bad she could no longer walk a city block without losing her breath. Since she was going to be a single mom, my parents convinced her to move back home to California so they could help her out until the baby was born. In May, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and was hospitalized for a week.

Due to her increased breathing difficulties, and because her baby could be delivered safely, they began to induce labor June 3rd. On June 5th, Calem was born by cesarean. He was very healthy. Unlike most mothers who can immediately take care of their babies, however, Laurianne was tested to see why she couldn’t breath. One day after Calem was born, they diagnosed that her right lung had collapsed. They rushed her to ICU and put a chest tube in her side to reinflate her lung. Two days after Calem was born, my sister was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was later determined the cancer was mucinous adenocarinoma (ah-den-o-car-sin-o-ma), a rare form of lung cancer for non-smokers. I remember calling my mom to see how my sister was doing, and hearing Laurianne sob because she just wanted to be with her baby. After six days of testing and limited visits with her newborn, she was finally released from the hospital.

Laurianne had been looking forward to breast feeding her baby, but due to the chemotherapy she only was able to breast feed for a short time. My husband and I came from Indianapolis to visit my sister in August. She was very tired but very positive. She was trying to pump milk because she was convinced that after her chemotherapy her tumor would be gone, and then she would be able to breast feed again. Laurianne never lost her sense of humor or positive attitude. Since she loved chocolate cake, she joked with us that the doctors were wrong and she really just had a piece of chocolate cake lodged in her lung. And she already was trying to help promote lung cancer awareness and how it could affect anyone, even a non-smoking, 25-year-old single mom.

In September, my sister was planning on attending an event to make people aware of lung cancer. Laurianne also began suffering from dizziness and headaches. The Friday before one of her cancer events, my mom convinced Laurianne to go out with a friend for a Girls Night Out and not talk cancer or Calem. Her life had been revolving around these two things and she needed time for herself. When Laurianne returned home with her friend, she suffered from severe dizziness, a massive headache and vomiting. My dad, a registered nurse, recognized something more was going on and took her to the emergency room. The doctors were not sure what was going on with her. They told her they wanted to admit her to the hospital, but they could not begin testing until Monday. She convinced her doctors not to have her sit around all weekend, because she would miss her event and an opportunity to share her story about lung cancer. That Monday, September 19th, Laurianne found out she had a brain tumor that was spread by the lung tumor. On Tuesday, September 20, we almost lost my sister because she began having seizures related to the brain tumor. They operated on her, and the brain tumor was successfully removed. Laurianne was to undergo radiation to make sure the tumor did not return which is standard procedure. I am very grateful to the doctors that helped perform this operation on my sister, because it gave us one more precious month to have her in our lives.

On October 22, Laurianne went to a doctor friend’s house for dinner, accompanied by my parents and her son. She was in the doorway when she collapsed. Her friend quickly began CPR and 911 was called. Laurianne died from complications of her illness on the way to the hospital. I will never forget my mom’s voice when she phoned me with the news my sister had died.

There is a stigma that lung cancer only affects smokers. No one in my family is a smoker. My 25-year-old sister never lived with smokers. Yet, because of lung cancer my brother and I no longer have our sister. Because of lung cancer, my parents no longer have their youngest daughter. Because of lung cancer, my nephew is going to grow up without his mom in his life. Stories, pictures and videos can not replace his mother for him. I stand before you today as a voice for my sister, Laurianne, and I ask you to help find a cure for lung cancer so that other families will not have to suffer loss, the way my family is suffering because Laurianne is no longer in our lives.

Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda :: 10:14 AM :: 12 people are more aware