Saturday, December 3, 2016

Meet Curt Stoner

After I was diagnosed and well into my second year of living with lung cancer, my friend Tim Gravitt from high school let me know his friend's father had lung cancer as well and was living on St. Simons Island.  He and his daughters had all gone to Georgia Tech and that's how Tim knew them.   Small world it seemed.  I didn't know of anyone else around with lung cancer.

Curt Stoner married Marie in 1975 and had two children, Elizabeth and Deborah.  Elizabeth being the oldest, I met through Tim at Atlanta's Free To Breathe Event.  Deborah was engaged when Curt was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer in April 2013 and married in July 2013.

Curt was always physically active and strong.  He had a healthy diet and always exercised.  He loved to play golf, so they moved to a golfing community in Jacksonville when he was a safety engineer for CSX,

In April 2013, he began with a cough that wouldn't go away.  His primary doctor thought it to be pneumonia but a chest x-ray and MRI would prove otherwise.  The pulmonary doctor found three liters of malignant fluid in his right lower lobe.  It was lung cancer and had already metastasized to his hips, plural cavity, sternum, and back bones.  He was given 6-12 months to live by Mayo in Jacksonville and confirmed by Sloan-Kettering.  He was tested for genome markers and none were detected so the course was traditional chemo.  He went through at least 3 rounds showing some shrinkage over the first two years.  But in May, 2015, he had a pulmonary embolism.

The surgeon at Mayo believed it was brought on by chemo so it was stopped.  He nearly bled out.  Afterwards he was so weak.  He tried radiation but to no avail.  A new drug was coming out in a about a month from then, but by this time he was done with treatments.  Like I've always said, quality of life comes first.  He opted for hospice.

He made the best of the time he had, rejoicing when his grandson was born in December 2014.  He and his wife attended as many Georgia Tech games as possible throughout.  Their daughters threw them a surprise 40th year anniversary party, including over 65 people, some who they hadn't seen for 35-40 years.  It was taxing on Curt, but he savored every moment and talked about it all the time.

Curt is remembered as a patient and kind southern gentleman.  He was a fighter, he never complained about the pain.  He even worked until January 2015.

After his diagnosis, he and his wife never took a single moment for granted and lived life to it's fullest.  She described every moment "as a treasure to 'Home-Heaven'".

Today marks the one year anniversary of the day he went to Home-Heaven.  He is no longer in pain and that gives some solace to the family.  Curt, like many others, was not a smoker.  He was not what the stigmas lead us to believe.  He was a father, a husband, a healthy person, a hard worker, and a gentle gentleman.  And that is how he will always be remembered.  He helped changed the face of lung cancer.  He was not your stereotypical patient.  My heart goes out to the Stoner family today, many prayers for you all.  I met Curt once at Free to Breathe.  He seemed like such a lovely character.  I'm sure he is missed by all who knew him.  His carefree spirit could be felt just upon introductions that year.

Thank you all for meeting Curt, who was not just a statistic, but a man with many values and a love for life.  And a man that defied the stigma associated with lung cancer.

Please take a moment and pray for his family, and thank you all for your continuous prayers for me.  You have no idea how much they mean.  God bless you all!

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