Lung Cancer Connection - Support, Education, Research, Hope

Ron Lindemann ~ My Story by Cecilia Lindemann

Ron Lindemann's lung cancer story. As his wife of 23 years...I will try to tell it because after three years and eight months he lost the battle.

In December of 2005 at the age of 65 Ron had been retired for five years. A few weeks before, he had decided to take a part time job as courier delivery driver for something to do. He was having fun driving all over town.

While on the job, Ron was walking and carrying a heavy box and he fell. After a 911 call it was discovered he had broken about four ribs which was very painful.  The big problem was he was found to be three units low on blood!!!!!!!! After many blood tests, x-rays, and several days in the hospital they did a  MRI, CT, and PET scan. We never found out why he was low on blood but they did find a very small spot in his right upper lung. 

We were told how lucky he was!  Usually only in a accident do you find lung cancer prior to symptoms. There are no screenings for lung cancer as there are for the other big cancers; mammograms, PSA test, colonoscopies and pap tests. (UPDATE: early screening is now possible under certain guidelines.  Early screening is critical) 

In January after the ribs got better, his right upper lobe was removed. The diagnosis was Stage I non small cell—Squamous-cell carcinoma—Lung Cancer.  We were asked by our oncologist if Ron wanted any chemotherapy treatments but assured it was likely not necessary because it was a very small tumor. It was explained that chemo could be given as an extra precaution. We both felt that Ron needed to do the chemo—just to be safe. This was just the first of many decisions in our cancer fight. Ron  underwent four treatments three weeks apart. He lost his hair, got extra tired, and had a few diet changes but all-in-all we still had our regular life. I remember Ron asked the doctor why four chemo treatments, not more or less. The answer was, “just a guess and the way they do it now, maybe it will be done differently in years to come." There are so few studies on lung cancer.

Every three months Ron would have a CAT scan of the chest. We thought all was well, but in June of 2007 we were told that what was thought to be scar tissue was getting bigger. Ron underwent a  biopsy of the pleura which is the covering  of the lungs. The doctor called  our home on July 4th 2007 to say that Ron had stage IV cancer. It was very bad news. We were told…you have six months to a year to live.

So sad! He still looks the same, feels the same, but life is never the same. We completed a Will and he decided to donate his body to Washington University Medical School. 

Ron receives all of the chemotherapy drugs that are approved by the FDA for lung cancer—none work for him. He also has many radiation treatments and uses strong medication for pain control.   He requires many blood transfusions to keep going.

We do keep going and make the best of the life we have together. Cancer makes you very very tired so we joke and live life between naps.  Before the “ big C” I had never seen Ron take a nap. One of the best things we did was join a newly formed lung cancer support group at The Wellness Community where we were able to exchange hospital and doctor information with other lung cancer patients. It was a helpful experience, but so sad when your new friends become too sick to come back. I remember one time saying  that I was very fortunate not to have been sick much.  I could only relate by being sick with the flu. Someone spoke up and said, “think about having the flu for three years!!”.

Of course I can not tell Ron’s story without telling about his long history of smoking. He smoked most of his life. As a child he and his friends put their allowance together each week and bought a pack of cigarettes. Most of his years he had a cigar lit or just in his mouth but he always said he did not inhale. He also worked around  smoke and strong chemicals. Even with this history, he never had trouble breathing and his oxygen levels were always normal. He was very addicted  and enjoyed smoking and did not stop until it hurt to much.  I tried to get him to stop but he was only able to quit smoking in front me!

On July 4th 2009 two years after his diagnosis  of stage IV lung cancer he had to sign up for hospice care and each day he becomes a little weaker. August 7th was his last day. I do hope there will more research that results in longer lives for lung cancer patients like the success there has been for some of the other cancers.

A few weeks after Ron died.  I was looking for something in a kitchen drawer that he always kept  a few tools and other handy stuff in. He had hand printed on a post it.

….light many many lamps & gather round his bed. Lend him your eyes, warm blood & will to live. But death replied, I choose him. So silence in the summer night. Silence & safety & the veils of sleep.

I will always miss his loving ways and dry wit.
Cecilia “Ann”  Lindemann