Facing a terminal diagnosis

Jim Poston, lifelong resident, chooses 'quality over quantity'

Jim Poston


STEPHENVILLE (April 26, 2016) – Jim Poston – a husband, father of two, grandfather and great-grandfather – has decided to live life on his own terms.

Jim, 69, recently learned he has an aggressive cancer spreading inside of him. That diagnosis was delivered in mid-March, and Jim has since decided to forgo radiation and its side effects. He has opted out of hospital stays and miles of back and forth traveling to and from scheduled treatments.

He will instead focus on what really matters, life’s simple pleasures. He plans to cherish the moments he has left with his wife, Cissy; children, Susan Culpepper and Jason Poston; grandchildren, great-grandchildren; his beloved puppy dogs; and dear friends.

The news of Jim’s terminal condition shocked the community. This is the second time in less than a year the family was delivered a cancer diagnosis. Cissy successfully fought the first bout. She was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2015.

“After many chemo treatments and doctors appointments with my mother, we never expected this,” Susan said.

Jim was diagnosed after three emergency room visits in as many months. Susan said prior to March 17, it was apparent there was a problem, but they weren’t prepared for the prognosis.

“We thought he was showing the early signs of dementia,” Susan said. “He was forgetful and began falling.”

In early February, Jim was told he had pneumonia. He was given medication and was started on breathing treatments.

His family felt there was a bigger problem. Jim knew there was – one he couldn’t explain.

“He couldn’t verbalize what he was experiencing,” Susan said. “We would go to the ER. We couldn’t tell the doctors and nurses what was happening, and he surely couldn’t. They would just look at us like we were crazy.”

Then came the mid-March visit. Dr. Marilyn Brister was working in the emergency department at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville. Starting ‘at the beginning,’ Dr. Brister ordered a barrage of tests, including a CT Scan and chest X-ray. She said the problem was immediately apparent.

“Dr. Brister said he had two brain tumors and we had to get him to Fort Worth as soon as possible,” Susan recalled.

Three brain tumors. And a huge mass on his lung.

“It’s Stage 4,” Susan said. “The cancer started in his lung and metastasized to his brain.”

Jim and his family had a lot to consider. But, no matter the decision, the difference would only be a matter of months.

“The doctor said dad would need to gain strength and go through rehab before could start radiation,” Susan said. “They said he could live another three to six months without treatment or another nine to 12 months with treatment.”

“Dad has decided he wants quality (of life) and not quantity (days or months),” Susan said.

After being diagnosed, Jim spent about a week in the hospital in Fort Worth. He has since returned to Stephenville, where he was admitted into a local nursing home to regain his strength. He was expected to return home Monday, April 25.

“He said he wants to be home, be with his puppies,” Susan said. “We are going to grant his wish and bring him home.”

Cissy, 73, is currently working in a retail environment. She has been on medical leave – without pay – since March 17 and plans to remain at her husband’s side.

“She plans to be away from work until May 1,” Susan said. “She will extend that time if she needs to, mom just wants to spend as much time with dad as possible.”

The Poston family has lived on a fixed income for years. Jim has been on disability due to a back injury for about 15 years. Medicare doesn’t cover all of the expenses. Jim has no life insurance.

After learning of Jim’s condition community members – friends and neighbors – came forward, telling Susan they would like to help her parents with mounting medical expenses and end-of-life arrangements.

“A lot of people are asking how they can help,” Susan said.

Jim and Cissy were both born and raised in Stephenville, and their roots run deep. Many community members recall the days of Poston Feed Mill. Some were raised Jim and Cissy or with Susan and Jason.

Others went school with the Postons’ grandchildren. And many remember their names from several years ago when the Poston Family Trust was bilked by two local accountants who were sent to prison for theft.

“They were left with nothing,” Susan said, adding that is all but a distant memory for the Poston family. “Still, I think people see how vulnerable we can all, how unpredictable it can be and want to help.”

To help, the James Poston benefit account has been established at First Financial Bank. Online contributions can be made at gofundme.com/dzzrm7wg


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