“Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, is the day my world changed forever. It is the day my wife Shanta Duncan passed away due to complications associated with her 16-year battle with pulmonary hypertension. She was just 39 years old. My wife left behind a 17-year-old son who’s in the middle of his senior year in high school – a year when we were planning for homecoming, selecting senior class items, looking forward to prom, preparing for college and of course getting ready for his high school graduation. Instead, we planned her funeral services and now we are trying to figure out how we’re going to survive the holiday season without our holiday super warrior. This was her time of the year. And now the holidays will never be the same.
“Pulmonary hypertension came into our lives during the summer of 2002. Initially we had no idea what PH meant. We had so many questions. What caused it? Is there a cure? Will we be able to have more kids? Can my wife hold her son who’s only a year old? What other life changes will have to be made? The biggest blow to us was when the doctor initially told us the life expectancy for her condition was three years. Wow. How do you make the most of life knowing you have a limited amount of time and you’re only 23 years old? My wife and I finally got our answers. They didn’t know what caused her PH therefore it was called Primary Pulmonary Hypertension at the time. There wasn’t a cure, but they are able to treat it. Since we were not able to have more kids, she had to terminate a pregnancy a year later. She was able to hold our son, but she had to be careful not to overexert herself. The last questions – about the changes coming in our lives and how to make the most of life – would be answered by us. Advancements in PH treatments helped prolong my wife’s life, but making the most of life was completely up to us. My wife was not going to be one to sit around and let this consume our lives. Shanta found a part-time job as a telephone operator for two different hotels. She even worked part-time as a substitute teacher. If there was something wanted to do that stretched her limitations, we would say “we’ll figure it out.” And that we did. If wanted to go swimming, we would wrap her pump in a Ziploc bag and wrap her in Saran Wrap. The “Lazy River” was her favorite. We did whatever it took for her to as full a life as possible.
“Though Shanta lived 16 instead of five years after her diagnosis, it still feels too soon, but it doesn’t feel like a life unlived. During her time with us my wife was always the most joyous and positive person in whatever room she walked into. Her son was and always will be the apple of her eye and she did an amazing job raising him to be the wonderful young man he is today. As a wife she was beauty personified and perfect in every way. The love my wife left to this world will last each of us a lifetime. And now we will love her for the rest of ours.”
Aaron Duncan Sr.