Laurianne's Hope

Monday, July 31, 2006

Upon Request - Laurianne's Story

Over the last couple of days I had many request to publish the speech I gave for the Relay for Life meeting last week. First of all I want to thank my daughter Lynda for her help on this and also for keeping this blog going. I hope to help her by publishing some articles again in the future. This is a revised version of Lynda's article she wrote a while back.

Laurianne's Story

My daughter, Laurianne Koning, grew up in a non-smoking household. She was a non-smoker, and did not work or live in a smoking environment.

In the fall 2002, Laurianne was living her dreams. She worked as a nawhinny in New York, a city she always dreamed of living in. Because of her job as a nanny, she was able to do some traveling, and see new places. While living in New York, she also learned to swim, something she hadn't really learned as a child. It soon became one of her passions, and she made sure she would swim at least 4 days a week. She was soon swimming a mile a day. The only problem, which she complained to us about, was that she sometimes had shoulder pain when she swam. But, at the ripe old age of 23 years old, no one would have thought to worry about it. We now suspect that this could have been an early warning sign that Laurianne was afflicted by lung cancer.

Two years later, in the beginning of December 2004, Laurianne told us she was pregnant. She often would find herself out of breath walking even the shortest distances. Laurianne went to the doctor, and 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, Josie and I convinced her to move back home to California so we could help her out at least until the baby was born. It took some convincing, because Laurianne was very independent, but she finally agreed. She also thought it would be nice to be near us when the baby arrived.

In mid-May, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and was hospitalized for a week. Doctors had her hooked up to machines to make sure the baby was okay. Through most of her pregnancy, she had a hacking cough, which doctors believed lead up to the pneumonia. They suspected Laurianne's lung had collapsed. Laurianne was mostly concerned that her baby would be okay. She was not due for another month, and although doctors were prepared to do a premature delivery, they preferred to wait until closer to her due date.

Due to her increased breathing difficulties, and because her baby could be delivered safely, they began to induce labor June 3rd. On June 5th, my grandson, 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 verified that her right lung had indeed collapsed. They rushed her to ICU and put a chest tube in her side to re-inflate her lung. Two days after Calem was born, Laurianne was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was later determined the cancer was mucinous adenocarinoma, a rare form of lung cancer for non-smokers. It was very hard on her not to be with her baby like any other new mom. Instead, they had to put her on medications so she couldn't breast feed, and Calem had to spend his first few days in the nursery because he wasn't allowed in ICU. After six days of testing and limited visits with her newborn, she was finally released from the hospital.

Laurianne was able to breast feed for a short time before she had to begin cancer treatments.. 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 working to promote lung cancer awareness and how it could affect anyone, even a non-smoking, 25-year-old single mom.

In September 2005 she was planning to attend relay for life to make people aware of lung cancer. Laurianne was suffering from dizziness and severe headaches at times. The Friday before Relay For Life, we convinced her 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. We feared 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 Relay For Life and an opportunity to share her story about lung cancer.

That Monday, September 19th, 2005, Laurianne found out she had a brain tumor that was spread by the lung tumor. On Tuesday, September 20, 2005, we almost lost Laurianne because she began having seizures related to the brain tumor. They operated on her, and the brain tumor was successfully removed. The doctors were amazed at the size of her tumor. It was so large, they were surprised she still had the capabilities to walk and talk before it was removed.

Laurianne was to undergo radiation to make sure the tumor did not return which is standard procedure. I will never forget how strong and positive she was during this ordeal. I am very grateful to the doctors that helped perform the operation because it gave us one more precious month to have her in our lives.

On October 22, 2005, we went with Laurianne to a friends house for dinner. She was in the doorway when she collapsed. CPR was quickly started and 911 was called. Laurianne died from complications of her illness on the way to the hospital.

There is a stigma that lung cancer only affects smokers. No one in my family is a smoker. My 25-year-old daughter never lived with smokers. Yet, because of lung cancer, Josie and I have no longer our youngest daughter. Because of lung cancer my other 2 children have no longer their sister. Because of lung cancer, my grandson is going to grow up without his mom in his life. Stories, pictures and videos can not replace his mother for him. Because of lung cancer, I speak out for my daughter, Laurianne, and other victims of this insidious disease whose voices are no longer heard. I want a cure for lung cancer and all other cancers so that other families will not have to suffer loss the way my family is suffering because Laurianne is no longer with us.

Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Henry (Calem's Opa) :: 7:53 PM :: 4 people are more aware

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Santa Rosa Relay for Life Dedication

This evening Josie, Calem and I went to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life meeting. We are the team captains of our team, Laurianne's Hope. We had been asked if we would share Laurianne's story. Each month someone would share their story to focus on the reasons why we Relay for Life.

After I gave my talk, Jackie-one of the organizers took over and she said how inspired they all were last year by Laurianne's involvement (our team raised over $7700) and enthusiasm she had for Relay while undergoing treatment. Because of this, they are dedicating this years Relay for Life to Laurianne. Of course we are very honored.

They had a large banner made with Laurianne's picture and it says: Santa Rosa Relay for Life proudly dedicates this event to Laurianne's Hope. Then Laurianne's words "So Calem and his generation will not have to worry about cancer". This banner will be visible as participants enter the Relay track on September 9-10.

This Relay for Life dedication, the Laurianne's Hope awards that were presented by Lynda to the winning bands at The First Annual Playing For A Cure in Memphis TN, Dr. Michael Siegel who ran his first half marathon in Boston for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society in memory of Laurianne and others and Lynda has some other friends who did a walk and wore t-shirts with Laurianne's name on it, make the more difficult moments more bearable.

Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Henry (Calem's Opa) :: 2:07 PM :: 1 people are more aware

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Nine Month Anniversary

Today is the nine month anniversary of Laurianne's death. It is hard to believe and from time to time still very unreal. Very often I relive that terrible saturday and sometimes if I hear an ambulance or firetruck I have flashbacks of that night. On other nights it almost seems like she is in New York and will call any moment. We feel fortunate that we have Calem and we see little things in him what we would see in Laurianne. I wil think extra about her today since it is a saturday today and burn a candle tonight .

My Memories
by Jessica L. Gray

It seems as if yesterday
you held out your hand
for a walk in the park
a play in the sand
I know it was just last night
I tucked you in bed
saying our prayers
with a kiss on the head
Sometimes I wonder why you had to go
But the answer to this I already know
So much suffering just can't go
on I finally had realized what I knew all along
I had so much to say
I Love You's to tell
I started to slip
and I almost fell
But I kept on moving one day at a time
My memories kept going
on and on I’m my mind
The day you were born
Your first big girl bike
I know you put these there
for me to keep in sight
I know you are with me
each hour and minute
I feel you around me
There seems to be no limit
So my darling daughter
I want you to know
I miss you and Thank You
for helping me let you go

Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Henry (Calem's Opa) :: 10:40 AM :: 1 people are more aware

Friday, July 21, 2006

Blood Saves

Save LivesToday I visited a website, that I plan to add to the sidebar. It is a website that talks about donating blood.

In all honesty, I have never donated blood for another human being. I had a lot of bloodwork done as a child and as a result, I am terrified of needles. But I do know my sister, my brother, and my dad at some time in their lives, have donated blood.

Visiting this site today, it made me think of how important blood donation was to Laurianne when she had her brain tumor removed. They told her she needed a blood transfusion. An in all honesty, this was the first time I turned to my dad and the nurse and said, "I will give my blood if she needs it." Of course, with all the testing they had to do, it didn't come to that (whew!), and they had it on hand. Laurianne was really worried about the blood transfusion, because she didn't realize what it did - replaced blood she lost due to her surgery.

If you have had any body art done, i.e. tattos, or if you have had your navel pierced, giving blood is even easier than that. Your blood could save the life of car accident victims, people who have gone through surgery, organ transplant recipients, premature infants and burn victims. Blood is something the body can not handle synthetically. I have been thinking long and hard of donating since I saw how it helped Laurianne. I might ask my dad to go with me the first time when I am out in California. Be A HeroSo, learn more about blood donation. Consider donating. Visit today and find out how you can save a life.

Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda (Laurianne's Sister) :: 7:23 AM :: 3 people are more aware

Monday, July 10, 2006

A New Tabocca

I just heard on the news that Philip Morris is using Indianapolis for a new product called Tabocca. It is a spitless, smokeless alternative to tobacco. One cube is the equivelent to four cigarettes.

The news stated that it was not a safe alternative to tobacco and smoking. It can still cause oral cancer. It makes me wonder, why even put it out there? I would think that Philip Morris has enough lawsuits, that they should just focus on Kraft, the food portion of their company.

Maybe Kraft isn't making them enough money....

Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda (Laurianne's Sister) :: 8:14 PM :: 1 people are more aware

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cancer in the Family

I think that it is very rare to find a person who hasn't been affected by cancer. This blog is dedicated to Laurianne, my sister, who had lung cancer. But, there have been other important family members who have also been affected by cancer.

My aunt Lin has chronic lymphocytic leukemia. If you knew Lin like I did growing up, you would know that she was very active. She and my dad would run together, and up until recently she was always running. Of my mom's three sister, Lin was the one who was always on the go. She could put the Energizer bunny to shame. Lin lives a very healthy lifestyle. She doesn't smoke. If she drinks at all, I think it is only on special occasions or rarely. When we were told of her diagnosis, no one would have guessed it.

My aunt Marina, my dad's sister, had breast cancer. She survived breast cancer for many years before she died from a heart condition. She had to have a masectomy, and I remember her being very open about her disease when I had questions for her. Marina smoked and drinked, but she lived in Europe where they also tend to walk a little bit more. She probably did a few things that increased her risk factors, but she was treated and able to live a cancer free life.

My uncle Hans had lung cancer. He was a heavy smoker. The few times I visited, he was a cigarette smoker, but he had graduated to cigars. My husband and I were visiting my folks in 2001, and I remember Hans talking to my dad about coming out for a visit. But his lung cancer spread quickly to his brain. Within a few weeks, lung cancer killed my uncle.

Since my sister's death, I have corresponded with a lot of wonderful people online. In March, Dan and I went to Playing for a Cure, which was organized by Jamie Young, a lung cancer survivor. I regularly visit the blog of another lung cancer survivor, Lynne, who is still fighting the disease and the blog of RoseNose, a breast cancer survivor. And recently, I started reading the blog of a young woman, Anne, who is Laurianne's age and has ovarian cancer. And the list goes on.

Laurianne's hope was that Calem would not have to worry about cancer. One of the things she wanted to do was save the stem cells in her umbilical code to help our aunt Lin. Unfortunately, that wasn't meant to be. That is why, in addition to lung cancer, we have other links on our blog. Hopefully, if someone find their way here, looking for help, they can leave with something that will help them.

Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda (Laurianne's Sister) :: 2:37 PM :: 1 people are more aware