Today’s guest post is from Cindy. This was her first Thanksgiving since Tim’s passing, and she found writing about him quite emotional but also cathartic. Interestingly, Tim also had an ALK mutation, an uncommon occurrence in someone with SCLC.
My husband, Tim, died from non-small cell lung cancer April 27, 2102 after a two and ½ year battle; he was 51 years old. In April of 2009 he had a complete physical and received a clean bill of health. In June he started feeling run down and had a nagging cough. He went to the doctor. Mind you this is about the 6th time I had seen him go to the doctor in the 25 years we had been together. They x-rayed and gave him steroids. He felt better with the steroids, but the cough and fatigue returned after the doses ended. He was also noticing that the eye sight was getting worse in one eye. He went to an eye doctor who immediately sent him to a specialist. The first diagnosis was ocular melanoma, not to be confused with skin cancer. We were terrified, but had a clear plan. After a standard PET scan to be sure it had not spread, they would radiate the cancer with a small puck behind his eye. Done. We even consulted with the radiologist and were getting ready to schedule the appointment. We received a call from the radiologist saying they saw something on the scan. Apparently it had spread. They did not think it was ocular melanoma anymore. Next step, biopsy. Of course we all know the answer to the biopsy question. Prognosis was about 16 months. As terrified as we were with the ocular melanoma diagnosis, at that point I would have given anything to go back to that point.
I will say that Tim (and I) smoked for many years. We quit when Tim turned 40 and he was diagnosed with lung cancer at 48. We have two teenage children who lived through this with us. They are caring and compassionate children and this experience has made them more so. When he was diagnosed Tim asked them to please, for him, don’t turn to drugs or alcohol to drown their sorrows. He asked them to live their life to the very fullest, if not in spite of this, because of this. We vowed to spend as much time together as a family as we could and started planning many, many wonderful vacations and events for the 4 of us. We had some real fun.
After about 8 months of the normal treatments Tim’s oncologist sent us to the University of Colorado Hospital where we met Dr Ross Camidge. There our hopes were bolstered. Turns out Tim had the ALK gene and was able to start on the crizotinib trial. What a miracle. He was feeling great, the cancer was gone. We were having a blast! The best part of that lasted about 8 months. The cancer then found its way to his brain. Whole brain radiation followed and then some progression of the cancer in his liver. The end of May 2011, right after a high school graduation cruise for our daughter, he was removed from the trial. The next 9 months were up and down. There were new trials and new trial failures. There was more radiation and then finally, nothing they could do. He held on so tight and tried as hard as he could. I know he was so very worried about his family, but when they told him there was nothing else to do, he was able to let go. His passing was quiet and beautiful with me, our kids and our dogs there to help him go.
Tim will be remembered for his great sense of humor and positive outlook on life. He always had something good to say to the doctors and staff and was always trying to make them laugh, even when they were telling him bad news. He rarely complained and tried his hardest to participate in everything up until the day he passed. Heck, he worked almost every day until about 2 weeks before he went. He was a good man and my best friend and, smoker or not, he did not deserve to have to leave us so soon.
thank you for posting these bios on truly amazing people i would never know otherwise but through you. again thanks –
Gwendolyn, you are most welcome. I am gratified that so many have come forward to tell their stories and hope others will continue to do so–all comers welcome!
A very beautiful story ..sounds like Tim was a really remarkable person. Thank you so much for sharing.
What a beautiful family you have. I never refer to the deceased as
gone but they are truly here with us now. The fear that goes along
with the dx. of cancer is awful. I know my own fears are difficult to
contain at times.
All of you as a family did a great job helping him pass on to the
other side-heaven. May God Bless us all. MARIA
A beautiful story, Tim sounds like a truly amazing person, father and husband. Thank you for sharing-
A very touching story full of love. God bless you and your children and thanks for sharing Tim’s story. May we all be so positive and brave.
Tim sounds like a lovely guy and blessed with the love of his partner in life and kids – even though he’s passed on now – his life is still having its effect on all of us – thank you so much for sharing it.
I have known Tim and Cindy for many years, and I can tell you they are truly an smazing couple. I hsve so many winderful memorirs snd will always cherish those. Tim was an incredible man, father, husband and son. Tim always lived every day to the fullest and with such zest. Cindy, thank you for sharing your story and in case you forgot you are just as amazing as that man that left us much too soon.
Perfectly said Cindy , Love you ,April
Cindy, many people in your situation would feel like a victim, but you have and continue to take the High Road. To this day, your courage and openheartedness inspire me. Love, Donna
So touching. Thank you Cindy. I echo Lana’s sentiments.
Cindy, thank you for sharing Tim here. It is so very true that no one deserves this cancer & that we need to see through the stigma of smoking and truly see each person for how valuable they are. Lorraine