Beginning at the end of January and carrying on into the first week of February, the lung cancer community has suffered some severe long term losses.
Remembering Jennifer Toth's legacy
It began with Jennifer Toth, a former contributor to LungCancer.net. Her articles were incredible. She was always funny but at the same time brutally honest. Lung Cancer Awareness *Fresh Air* was built for lung cancer patients only. It is somewhere to talk and vent, where we can be honest and is managed by lung cancer patients only. Her sense of humor kept us encouraged. It was great how she actually told you like it is. She didn't have time to beat around the bush. None of us do. So, it's best to be happy and keep the humor alive. Laughter is the best medicine Jennifer was a long term survivor and a very dear friend. Unfortunately, it seems tragedy strikes in 3's.
Celebrating the life of Superman Don Stranathan
A few days later, one of my greatest confidants and mentors won his battle with lung cancer and now gets to reunite with the love of his life. She also succumbed to lung cancer. I know most of the lung cancer community knows who I'm referring too.
Superman, AKA Don Stranathan is finally free. I thought he was invincible. He as always able to find new treatments when others failed. There isn't a time that I can remember without knowing Don since getting sick. He was friends with both my mother and me.
We often went to him for help or suggestions. I'm pretty sure he was an 11 year survivor, so his knowledge was so vast. He may have been in pain but he never let it show. He consistently took pictures of his infusions with an enormous grin and a thumbs up. I know he couldn't have been feeling great, but that wasn't important to him. His goal was to show us life. Don was one of the most amazing advocates I've ever met. If I can only make someone feel half as special as he made me feel, it'll have all been worth it. Some of my roughest times were spent talking to him. I know my days would've been so much harder without him leading me to my new family. The world just got a little darker without him.
Heartbroken over the loss of Bobbi Johnson-Filipiak
Finally, the very next day we lost Bobbi Johnson-Filipiak, aka Bobbi Jo. We were both diagnosed at approximately the same time. I am going into my 8th year living with this monster. She had such a young daughter. It was amazing how she wrote to her daughter different advice before her death. Her daughter is approximately the age my daughter was upon my diagnosis. Fortunately, I've been able to see my daughter grow throughout the years. It breaks my heart that Bobbi-Jo will miss this. She was an amazing mother and friend. She too was an amazing advocate. After trying so much, her body just couldn't handle it anymore. I think she knew her time was coming to an end.
The little posts on Facebook to her daughter told me she knew she wouldn't be around. There is no greater love than you have for your child. It's absolutely devastating to lose someone so young and full of life with a family to raise to this disease.
Time to pick up the torch and run with it
But all of these Giants, they wouldn't want us to spend our time being sad. They want us to pick up the torch and run with it. Forge the way into new medicine for everyone, including their family members that may get it.
The hardest part of having lung cancer is not having lung cancer. It's losing the people that you've grown to love like family.
Do you have a pet?