As a Cal Fire paramedic/engineer, Garon Coalwell is trained to be calm in emergency situations. But when it comes to his wife’s battle with cancer, the Atascadero resident says he can’t help but feel some urgency.
“When it’s your own family, it’s a totally different game,” said Coalwell, 33.
Lauri Coalwell, 28, was diagnosed in early February with a rare cancer categorized as a choriocarcinoma, a quick-growing cancer in the uterus.
The diagnosis came about six weeks after giving birth to their baby, Trajan, who turned 8 months old today.
“Basically it starts in the placenta as an abnormal cell and for some reason it doesn’t turn into cancer until after delivery of the baby,” Coalwell said of the disease doctors are still trying to understand.
Lauri Coalwell’s tumor grew through her uterus and ruptured a blood vessel, which caused a hemorrhage suddenly during a visit with family in the Bay Area.
Once in the hospital, doctors discovered the cancer. They also found it had spread, he said, with tumors also in her liver and lungs.
On Friday, Lauri Coalwell was enjoying a relaxed morning at home on her leave from chemotherapy. She wasn’t up for an interview, but her husband said they’re optimistic for the future.
“We’re in limbo and trying not to get too excited, but so far she doesn’t have any active cancer,” he said, noting her last stint of treatment at UCLA went well. “It’s good news, but we’re still holding our breath.”
In the meantime, he said they’re trying to get back to enjoying time together in the outdoors, starting with small walks in their North County neighborhood.
“For her to be able to be outside, with the trees and fresh air,” Garon Coalwell said, “that’s good for her sprits. I’m ecstatic to have her home so we can be a family together.”
How you can help
The San Luis Obispo County Firefighters Against Cancer group is hosting a benefit barbecue and motorcycle ride to benefit the Coalwells.
Ride options include a street ride at 9 a.m. Sunday at Santa Maria Harley-Davidson, 2022 Preisker Lane; or a dirt ride the same day near Pozo. For the specific location and time of the dirt ride, contact the group at 801-2195. Motorcycle ride tickets are $20 per person and include a T-shirt, barbecue meal and a beverage. Tickets just for the barbecue are $10, and include a meal, beverage, music and door prizes. The barbecue will start at noon Sunday at the Pozo Saloon, 90 W. Pozo Road. To purchase tickets, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://slocfac.org/get-tickets.