A blog reader commented on the CaringBridge entry, so here it is. The details of Lauren’s final fight show she never gave up.
Things happened so fast, it’s hard to realize it’s real. Lauren passed away on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 7:30 am. After speaking at Laguna Creek High School, her alma mater, on January 24th, at an anti-bullying assembly, Lauren was feeling like she made a difference to the students. Lauren got two units of blood on Wednesday, January 29th and was feeling much better. She was looking forward to attending the first Diablo Valley College Swim Meet on Friday to cheer on her former teammates. The next day she woke up and had a lot of difficulty breathing. She called 911 and an ambulance took her to the South Sacramento ER. Dad had driven to the house and followed the ambulance while mom drove from work to the ER.
It was determined that the extra fluids involved with getting the blood the day before caused her body to retain too much fluid. She was given lasix and that made her feel better, but she still needed some help with oxygen. For the first time, Lauren used the oxygen concentrator that has been in the family room since June. She had it at a level “3.” The next day, she asked Mark to increase it to a level “4.” No swim meet that day because she couldn’t be off oxygen.
On Saturday, when mom went downstairs, Lauren asked for a wheelchair to take her from the bathroom to the couch, which is about 15 feet away. She was very short of breath and the concentrator was increased to a “5,” its highest level. Hospice was called and the nurse came to check out the situation. Her doctor was called to find out his recommendation. After discussing that this was a progression of her cancer, Lauren decided she wanted to be at home.
Albuterol was ordered, but after receiving the treatment, there was no change. Lauren wanted to go to Roseville Kaiser, but didn’t think she could make it that far. 911 was called again and they put her on a C-pap to South Sacramento Kaiser. After she was stabilized, Lauren was taken by ambulance to Roseville. We were all so thankful that Lauren could be with the staff who knew her and loved her. Before leaving to South Sacramento, Lauren told mom she didn’t want to die in Sacramento. It was important to Lauren to be with those she had spent so much time with and developed such close relationships with.
Lauren was going to go into Pediatric ICU, but they arranged it so she had a double-sized room on the main floor. This way her regular nurses could take care of her and stop by to visit. So many came by to check on Lauren and give her loving support. Her oxygen saturation continued to decrease. Eventually, they put her on 100% oxygen. Dad and Mark had driven to both hospitals while mom rode in the ambulance with Lauren. After awhile, Susan and Kevin Balko came. Soon after Job and Abe joined up. A bit later, Chris and Valerie Rhodes, the owners of Deanne’s company, visited to support Lauren and the family. We were very thankful for the double-sized room, with so many wanting to be there for Lauren. Lauren was told that Egor was flying up the next day to be with her.
We found out that the shading on Lauren’s right lung was not fluid, but tumors that had now spread to her “good” lung. Lauren was really struggling for breath, even with the forced air being used. She wasn’t able to talk much due to the oxygen mask, but she was aware of everyone who came by. Lauren’s former Nurse Practitioner, Tamara, was in town so she came by to give her love. She stayed until 1:00 am helping to provide support. Tamara asked Lauren if she was in pain and she shook her head “no.” Then Tamara asked if she was afraid, and she again shook her head “no.” Three other friends of Lauren’s visited and they stayed until almost 2:00 am.
The doctors and nurses made sure to keep Lauren comfortable by giving her pain relief and anti-anxiety meds. By the early morning Lauren was not responsive. She passed away very peacefully and painlessly. Although she wanted to keep fighting her cancer, she fought until there was no fight left in her body. She was a true warrior.
A celebration of Lauren McCullough’s life will be held on Saturday, February 22, 2014, at 2:00 pm at Laguna Creek High School in the gym. It is located at 9050 Vicino Drive in Elk Grove, CA 95758. All are welcome who would like to celebrate and remember Lauren. The dress is casual and as Lauren would have wanted: Beachy/tropical attire. In lieu of flowers, those so inclined may make a donation to one of Lauren’s selected charities:
This picture was taken in Hawaii in 2011, just days before the cancer was discovered in her leg. This exemplifies how Lauren lived her life and enjoyed all the good things she was able to experience.