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Terminally Ill Father Dances with Daughter on Wedding Day: 'She Took My Breath Away'

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People can accomplish amazing feats for the sake of those they love, even when they themselves are fighting to stay alive.

Such was the case for 65-year-old Lew Johnston. According to The Daily Mail, Johnston was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) two decades ago.

A slow-burning, cumulative illness, COPD often proves fatal. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains that it is often the result of long-term smoking.

It leads to horrible, mucus-producing coughs, mucus that causes the airways to become inflamed and unable to breathe effectively. Physicians don’t yet have any idea how to restore breathing function to people with COPD.

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Indeed, that was the crux of Johnston’s dilemma: His daughter, Vanessa, was getting married in Arrowhead, California, and he was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to attend.

Arrowhead lies some 4,000 feet above sea level, so the fear was well founded. Johnston has needed to use oxygen around the clock just to survive.

Physicians also warned him that the high altitude might make his lungs collapse. So Johnston decided to put it to the test.

He traveled to the venue on his own steam. When he tolerated the altitude without incident, his doctors game him the “all clear.”

“It was amazing to have my dad there,” Vanessa said. “He is in the end stage of COPD which has progressed rapidly over the past number of years and his quality of life has gone down a lot.”

“We thought he wouldn’t be able to come to my wedding because of the altitude and that was such a worrying few weeks. It would have devastated me, and I was so relieved when his doctors cleared him to go.”

Johnston did more than merely attend. His also gave his daughter away and danced with her, slowly swaying to Elton John’s hit “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”

That’s no small feat given that he has a hard time moving most days.

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“To walk Vanessa down the aisle was the highlight of my life,” he said.

“She took my breath away. I felt like I was walking on air when I was walking her down the aisle.

“I didn’t even notice my oxygen machine over my shoulder.” Honestly, I doubt anyone did. I bet most were wiping their appropriately misty eyes.

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
Education
Wheaton College
Location
Florida
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Entertainment, Faith, Travel




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