Lung cancer symptoms can be hard to detect
Des Allemands woman one of many fighting for life
Stacey Dantin, of Des Allemands, plays with grandchild Sebastian Cooper.
Dantin first noticed something was wrong as she took care of her four grandchildren, all less than three years old.
“She was taking care of my two sons and my sister’s two sons when she noticed that her back was hurting. Then it spread to pain in her chest,” said Jerri Cooper, Dantin’s daughter who also lives in Des Allemands.
In late April, Dantin’s doctor diagnosed her with stage 3 lung cancer and infected lymph nodes above the heart that are inoperable.
Cooper said that despite her mother being a smoker, the family was shocked by the news. About 25 percent of people with lung cancer have no symptoms until it reaches advanced stages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but some experience shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing or chest pain, like Dantin.
Now Dantin is undergoing two types of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation and the bills are piling up.
“She has chemotherapy in Houma five days a week and radiation in Morgan City five days a week,” Cooper said.
Doctors hope the painful radiation and chemotherapy will shrink the lymph nodes and kill the cancerous cells.
“In gas, I couldn’t even estimate the cost but just the medication to minimize pain is $200 a week, then the bills from the hospital are on top of that,” Cooper said. “It’s definitely in the thousands and going up.”
The St. Charles community has come to the family offering kindness and help. Last Sunday, a family friend donated time and space for a fundraiser at the River Room in Luling to cover Dantin’s medical costs. Although Dantin was suffering on the day of the fundraiser, she made her way out to thank the community at the event.
“My mom was very overwhelmed but very appreciate and grateful,” Cooper said.
They were able to raise about $10,000 during the event, but Cooper said more bills come in each day.
“I think it will definitely help, but I don’t think it will cover all of the expenses,” Cooper said.
The family has opened an account at Chase banks where community members can donate to help Dantin fight the aggressive cancer.
Lung cancer is the leading type of cancer nationwide, but it is especially prevalent in women with more diagnoses than breast, uterine and ovarian cancers combined.
While smoking severely increases the chances of developing lung cancer, one in five women who develop lung cancer have never smoked. Other factors can lead to an increased risk, including secondhand smoke, genetics and exposure to radon, asbestos, arsenic, silica and chromium. Radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, according to the CDC.
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