Nurse records husband's journey through mesotheliomaFor registered nurse Linda Chitwood and her husband Lannie, everything changed on Nov. 15, 2007. That was the day when, while listening through her stethoscope, she heard an odd sound in the right side of her husband's chest: silence. His left lung was filling and emptying normally, but his right one was mysteriously silent, and he had a cough and a fever, which were rare for him.
Soon afterward, Linda would begin keeping a journal of her husband's health and her journey with him into a new stage of their lives, one defined by a disease - malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) - and dedication to one another.
That journal ultimately became a book, Fear 2 Faith: Our Journey Through Mesothelioma. Recently, the Chitwoods spoke to the Tidewater News about it.
Lives turned upside down
Of her husband's initial symptoms, Linda said that things seemed harmless enough at first, but that they progressed quickly.
"It developed into a chest cold that wouldn’t go away, so he saw a doctor," she explained to the news source. "Tests confirmed he had mesothelioma. I felt lost and alone, even though our son, Mark, and daughter, Alison, were just a phone call away."
Linda added that even being an RN didn't make things any easier. Calling the number of decisions she and her husband had to make "mind-boggling," she recounted having to choose doctors, treatments, tests and hospitals.
Lannie, a retired game warden, took the news in stride, but he and his wife relied on each other - as well as their friends, family and church - for strength and support. According to Linda, there is no obvious path through the world of mesothelioma.
For that reason, she wrote her book, so that others might hear the Chitwoods' story and learn the ins and outs of mesothelioma treatment.
Five years later, and still going strong
According to the newspaper, Lannie ultimately underwent an extrapleural pneumonectomy for his MPM, losing his right lung, pericardium (the sac surrounding the heart) and one rib. Afterward, he received radiation and chemotherapy in order to further obliterate the disease.
Today, he is feeling good and has regained much of the weight he lost. Lannie credited his wife for helping him through it all. For her part, Linda said that the thoughts and prayers of others were what buoyed her up.
"When the diagnosis is first made there is the fear, but hopefully, there will be faith that things will be all right," she told the news source. "Faith is what helped my family."
She added that she hopes her book can help others who are embarking on their own journey through mesothelioma.
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