Laurianne's Hope

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lung cancer patient, 26, dies: Spokane woman encouraged others to get screening

From just the little bit I read about Christine, I feel she had a lot in common with Laurianne. I think Christine's story, like Laurianne's, is an important one. My thoughts and best wishes go out to Christine's family, and I wish them the best on the difficult road they have ahead.

Spokesman-Review, The (Spokane, WA) (KRT) - May. 23, 2006

May 23--Christine Plank-Meeusen had a long to-do list.

She wanted to travel the world. She wanted to see her 3-year-old son, Avery, grow into adulthood. She wanted to give him a brother or sister.

But the north Spokane woman, one of the youngest people in the country battling lung cancer, was never able to cross those things off her list.

Plank-Meeusen, who was profiled in The Spokesman-Review in March, died Sunday afternoon, surrounded by family. She was 26.

"She gave it one hell of a fight," said her husband, Mathew Meeusen.

Cancer had spread throughout Plank-Meeusen's body but she was holding steady until less than a week ago.

Then her condition deteriorated and she was hospitalized.

"It just hits a certain point where that's sort of it," he said.

Plank-Meeusen never smoked and was rarely exposed to secondhand smoke. No one knows why she contracted the disease. Researchers are studying genetic factors behind these types of cancers.

She had a hacking cough for months and was thought to have a persistent cold or pneumonia.

Doctors rarely suspect lung cancer in someone so young. But a chest X-ray confirmed the worst.

"She never wanted another mother to have to go through what she went through," Meeusen said.

"She just wanted people to know if you ever cough more than two months or three months, ask for an X-ray and get checked out."

Plank-Meeusen told her story in the newspaper and on TV to raise awareness of lung cancer and to push for increased funding for research.

"She wants people to keep on their legislators to fight this," Meeusen said.

In the past month, Plank-Meeusen became friends with Deb True, a Spokane mother with a blood disease called porphyria. The two shared the same oncologist.

"We just hit it off," True said. "We discussed the struggles of being sick and fighting and just trying to raise kids and be a mom and a wife. ... She was just loved and wonderful and just a great person. She fought right up to the end."

True visited her friend at Holy Family Hospital many times in recent days. On Thursday, True said, Plank-Meeusen told her, "There's nothing more they can do for me. ... But I'm going to fight."

After that, Plank-Meeusen drifted in and out of consciousness, stirring a bit when she heard the voices of her husband and son.

In her last weeks of life, Plank-Meeusen did get to fulfill one wish from her to-do list: to drive a convertible.

Her husband rented one for a few days at the end of April. A photo on Plank-Meeusen's blog shows her beaming from the driver's seat with Avery on her lap.

Avery played at the hospital for the past several days, Meeusen said.

When Plank-Meeusen would hear her son's voice "she would actually get a little smile on her lips even when she was asleep," Meeusen said.

She asked to be cremated. Some of her remains will be kept in a locket attached to one of Avery's teddy bears.

"She always wants to be around to guard over Avery and be there for him," Meeusen said.
More About Christine:

Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda (Laurianne's Sister) :: 9:05 AM :: 0 people are more aware