Monday, July 31, 2006Upon 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 StoryMy 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.
Posted by Henry (Calem's Opa) :: 7:53 PM :: 4 people are more aware ---------------------------------------