Writing someone’s story in a newspaper article is a strange thing. You get this one glimpse into a person's life at one specific moment about one specific thing. It goes into print, and then we all move on. They go back to their lives and I go on to the next story.
But after I wrote about Staff Sgt. Lupe Maldonado last May, I couldn’t help but continue to follow his story. And many readers felt the same way. For months after writing about Lupe’s fight with cancer, and the tragic circumstances around it, people sent me emails and Facebook messages asking about his progress.
Cancer impacted far more than just Lupe’s health, and I think most people who’ve had a serious illness come into their home know the challenges created.
When I heard about Lupe’s death over the weekend, I was both sad and relieved. Sad because it was an unnecessary death, but relieved because he’s no longer in pain.
By the time I met Lupe in May, I could tell his quality of life had begun to deteriorate. Reading his list of Army awards, it’s hard to imagine the man I saw in a recliner was the man who served three tours in Iraq and passed the air assault course.
My final thought this week is this: I hope that people learn from Lupe’s death. I hope doctors learn that soldiers who suddenly frequent the ER are not just looking for a way out of deployment, but a solution to their ailments. I want patients to realize if they truly feel something greater is going on with them, they can fight for proper care.
You would think this is something that our service members, or anyone for that matter, should not have to endure. Clearly though, that is our reality.
Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.