Submitted by Candita Pope
When life takes a turn for the worse, the best thing a man has going for him is his family. Larry Pope, owner of Pope Concrete, can really appreciate that.
After four months of observing her husband not feeling good, constantly fatigued, with no appetite, and losing more than 40 pounds, Pope’s wife Cindy took him to the ER. She had noticed his symptoms getting worse. A month before, Larry had gone to a walk-in clinic, where doctors thought the problem was a sinus infection, and he was prescribed the antibiotic Z-Pac (zithromycin). But nothing changed, and the symptoms kept getting worse.
When the couple went out to do a job, Larry seemed fine in the car, but as soon as he started work, he would immediately get tired and have to go to the car to rest. He also had lost so much weight that his trousers almost completely fell off. A social man who loved having friends over to drink blue beers and joke around, he now found it almost impossible to sit and visit with company.
Sept. 6, Cindy Pope took her husband to the ER for tests, hoping to get some answers. After doing an X-ray, doctors noticed a large mass in his lungs, which they assumed was cancer. Pope was immediately admitted to Rockford Memorial Hospital for further testing and to get his vitals stabilized. A few days later, he went in for a biopsy while his family waited for the results, hoping that this one time, the doctors were wrong. In the eyes of his wife, five children and six grandchildren, Pope is the strongest man in the family. But the tests revealed that the problem was Adenocarcinoma — lung cancer.
After the biopsy, Pope was taken back to his room, and his wife Cindy told him the result. Larry looked at two of his children and said, “I’m not ready to die.” The fight for his life was on; he wasn’t ready to give up, and neither was his family. Several tests still needed to be done: bone scan, PET scan and brain scan.
Judging by the size of the mass in Pope’s lung, doctors originally thought it had spread all through his body, making it stage 4. But all the scans came back good; the cancer had not spread so far, making it a stage 3b, because the mass was so big and had affected the lymph nodes around it. Larry met with his oncologist to discuss treatment options; their plan was to do radiation and chemo combined. The goal was to shrink the tumor enough that surgery could be considered, which had not previously been an option.
So far, treatment has gone well. Pope still has a few trouble spots with his calcium levels being high, blood pressure being low and making sure he’s getting plenty of food and fluids. The family expects some ups and downs. Cindy recalled that a few times she had to say, “I’ve been married to you for 31 years, and I’ve never seen you let something like this kick your a–. Is that what you’re going to do, bow down to this cancer and let it win?” His response is always the same: “Hell, no!”
Pope’s wife and daughter also said: “Do your research; you’ll be amazed at how much you didn’t know and how much you will learn. Everyone knows someone who’s been affected by cancer; getting yourself informed will not only help you, but you’ll be surprised by how much you can help others.”
Pope’s family and friends are throwing a benefit in his honor to help with medical costs. This event will be held beginning at 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Old Still, 2610 Kilburn Ave., Rockford. Food will be mostaciolli, salad, bread and beverage at $5 a plate, with live music, 50/50 raffles, beer and drink specials. Raffle items include a fishing trip, a John Deere riding lawn mower, a big screen TV, a Bears jersey, an assortment of gift baskets and much more. Come show your support and give Larry a big “Hell, yeah!”
From the Oct. 22-28, 2014, issue