In March 2014, Wendell Anderson and his wife took their girls to Florida where they ran on the beaches every morning. In April, Wendell hurt his back carrying a grill to their deck. He visited the doctor and a chiropractor. His pain caused him to miss a few events, such as Easter. Finally, he had enough of the pain and asked for an MRI. Before he left the office following the MRI, the technician told him his doctor would call tonight. Stunned, they had no idea why she would call in the evening.
That night, his doctor called to tell Wendell he had two fractures on his vertebrae. She said the fractures looked as if Wendell had been in a terrible accident. She made an appointment at MN Oncology for the next morning. Wendell was told he may have lung cancer. His family was shocked and wondered how a 49-year-old nonsmoker like Wendell could have lung cancer?
In May, it was confirmed that Wendell had lung cancer and it had metastasized to his bones and lymph nodes. During the following months, Wendell received radiation and chemotherapy. Seeking a second opinion, Wendell met with a doctor at the U of M. He was kind and sweet, but told Wendell the same news as MN Oncology—stick with the chemo until something better comes along. The cancer was aggressive and “smart”. It knew how to hide. In December, they found cancer in Wendell’s liver. In February, a family friend found a clinical trial Wendell could join which included undergoing more scans. The scans showed the cancer was now in his brain and kidney.
A year after his diagnosis, Wendell died of lung cancer. Even though his body was riddled with cancer, Wendell kept his spirit up and was smart in his last months. He knew he was dying, so he prepared his family in many ways. Many friends never knew how serious his cancer was; most will never know how awful the last minutes of his life were. In the end though, Wendell was a man of deep faith and he died in peace, knowing he was going home to Jesus.
Please join A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation to fight this unfair and misunderstood cancer. Help us bring hope and support to lung cancer patients. Help us educate the public. Help us drive fair funding to lung cancer research. Help us push for preventative lung screening for everyone, especially those with risk factors.
Like any other cancer, lung cancer can happen to anyone, and everyone deserves a chance to beat it.