Tammy from Maryland

I got a call from my sister Debbie—her husband Donny had fourth stage lung cancer. He was 63. What does 4th stage cancer means to a family that meant Debbie and the rest of our family would need to be creative. It meant time off from work, sitters for the kids, and coordinated trips to three different hospitals, making meals, trips to the pharmacy. Life had ended as we knew it.

I made soup, stews and lasagna. I never wanted them to come home from the doctor without food. Donny continued to work from the hospital bed at Hopkins He continued to work and continued his treatments—he was a trooper. When he was scheduled for radiation or Chemo I met him or one of the boys met him (only two of their children live nearby). Debbie didn’t have cumulative sick leave or vacation leave at her job and she was saving the little time she had. She knew it was only going to get worse. Debbie was considered contractual with the Anne Arundel Public School System. Even though she has worked for over 18 years, she had very few sick days, very few vacation days, and very little benefits at all.

We All had to juggle and be creative. We had to keep life as normal as possible even though it was like being in the eye of a storm.

February 17th was Debbie and Donny’s 41st wedding anniversary. Donny was talking with us, watching TV—seemed like a normal day and then the Hospice nurse arrived. She told Debbie he only had a 12 hours. He died exactly 12 hours later—10 months after being diagnosed.

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