When someone you care about is diagnosed with cancer, the first question that typically pops to mind is, “Why? Why does this person, who means so much to me, have to be sick?” Of course no one should have to hear the words “you have cancer,” whether you care for them or not. It’s an insidious disease whose impact is felt far and wide.
In the past few years, two people in my family have been diagnosed with cancer—my stepfather, and my stepsister. My stepfather lost his battle with stomach cancer fairly quickly, succumbing to the disease within months of his diagnosis. He was 76, and up until his first symptoms, was incredibly fit, vibrant and constantly on the go.
His daughter, Claire, 50, an avid outdoorswoman and nonsmoker, just this past February was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer . She’s still fighting, and this is her story.
Part 1: What Do These Lumps Mean?
I only first met Claire, a resident of Boise, Idaho for 19 years, when I was a senior in high school, so we have no childhood history, no shared memories of growing up. It took us awhile to get to know each other, as we only saw each other sporadically over the years. Our true bonding moment came, unfortunately, when her dad was in Hospice living out his last few days. Together, with my mother, we cared for him night and day, trying to make his remaining time as comfortable as possible. We also helped each other cope with our impending loss.
Now, just two-and-a-half years later, she’s fighting for her own life, and all I really can do is write about it, hoping that others learning of her story can garner hope from her great strength, educate themselves about this disease, and reach out to others who are either sick or are caring for someone who is.
Claire first noticed lumps right above her collar bone when she was traveling for business and quickly had them checked out by her doctor when she returned home. The doctor ordered a CT scan of Claire’s neck, which potentially showed scarring on one lung.