1939 / Class of '95 / Type: Lambda / Died 2-6-99
I grew up in Illinois, just east of St. Louis, Missouri on a 160 acre farm.
We raised wheat, corn, soy-beans, alfalfa, and also milked about 20 cows every
day. Hard work, long hours, lots of exercise, and lots of home-cooked food from
our farm and from the garden. When we were working in the summer, we probably
consumed 7000 calories a day! Also, this was in the 40's and early 50's when
farmers were just beginning to exploit fertilizers and pesticides to the max to
improve production, so I probably had lots of exposure to some toxic chemicals.
Actually, I remember playing in truckloads of wheat and corn that had been
treated with chemical preservatives. Another thing I remember was going to a
shoe store and watching my foot bones through an x-ray machine - probably an
inefficient, poorly shielded machine too. Contrast that to today where we worry
about exposure to little weak 1/50 sec x-ray blips.
After I left southern Illinois, I moved to Urbana, Illinois for 10 years
where I went to the University of Illinois and after 10 years finally got a
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 1968. Then, I moved to Morgantown, West
Virginia and taught engineering at West Virginia University for 3 years. Next, a
year in Europe traveling around all the way from Norway to North Africa. Then on
to Seattle working for Boeing where I worked first as an engineer and later as a
computing manager - a job I retired from last year. During those years I took
short trips to Greece, England, Russia and Finland, and Germany.
Until I was about 50, I would say my health was very good. I did have fairly
severe allergies to pollen and dust throughout most of my life. I have always
been active - skiing, hiking, mountain climbing, sailing. I used to run from 1
to 5 miles a day. I had cataracts and surgery about 8 years ago. Also I have had
hypertension for the past several years treated with labatalol (800 mg per day).
MM DIAGNOSIS: I was diagnosed at 56 and I'm 58 now. My only
pre-diagnostic symptom was lower back pain that slowly got worse over about 6
months. I was misdiagnosed several times as pain being due to arthritis - my
doctor prescribed increased exercise several times. I then went to an orthopedic
specialist and he said same thing. Finally I went to an internist whom I knew
from before. She decided we needed to get to the bottom of my problem, noted I
had anemia, and pursued until she reached MM diagnosis. My main problem at this
time was that due to the lower back pain, (April 95) I could hardly walk.
TREATMENT HISTORY: My internist set me up with a good local
oncology doctor that she knew - very sharp guy and Harvard medical school
graduate. He is not an MM specialist but seems to be very knowledgeable about MM
and latest MM treatments. Most of my current symptoms are related to 1995 lower
back bone damage and recent mid-back and rib bone damage - back pain and
stiffness. Also, I have fatigue much of the time.
The treatments I have had so far are:
Radiation/Dexamethasone treatment to lower spine - 4/26/95 to 5/23/95
Radiation/surgery with pin to right humerus - 5/10/95 to 5/20/95
8 Monthly VAD Treatments VAD #1 - 6/8/95 to VAD #8 - 2/7/96 - side effects
lost hair, nausea, vision blurred, headaches, 2X diabetes from Decadron, 2X high
7/23/96 Stem Cell Harvest chemo - 8 grams of Cytoxan + VP16 + Decadron
8/4/96 Harvest at Fred Hutch - side effects - bad infection at catheter site
and in bloodstream also I got a blood clot in my neck - slow recovery from all
Interferon treatment - Sept 1996 to Aug 1997 - 3 times per week 3 M Units per
time - side effects - flu-like symptoms 1st several shots - not much later
Aredia treatment - October 1996 to present - monthly 4 hour infusion (90 mg)
- side effects - minor bone pain, aching. Also, changed to twice per month Sept
6/15/97 Restaging - lesion on left humerus treated with radiation/surgical
8/15/97 Pain in ribs and spine - multiple lesions found. - interferon
9/1/97 New treatment started - CVAD monthly for 4 or 5 months, then Stem Cell
Transplant planned for early 1998.
07-Feb-99: Our dear friend and contributor to this line lost his fight for his
life on this earth yesterday, Saturday at about 4 p.m. , Seattle-time. His
sister called me here at Mayo's last night to let me know the news. I, as well
as others on this line, will miss his dry sense of humor as well as his
intellectual and more precise outlook on life. His heart finally gave out and
the hospital is studying what the difficulty was and why the antibiotics did not
work for the pneumonia. Whatever the cause, Bob Eilers, a good and worthy
gentleman is no longer with us. I will miss him!
Love to you Bob . You will be missed. Love, Merry Lou