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Glenn Schroer
07.29.99

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

2-15-23 / Class of '95 / Type: non-secretory / Died 7-29-99

Written by Glenn M. Schroer; submitted by his daughter, Janie Manley (janiemanley@cs.com)

The following story tells about my dad's battle with MM:

I was born in Red Wing, Minnesota on February 15, 1923. I had a normal childhood with normal childhood diseases (measles, chickenpox, etc.) Prior to MM, I was never sick a day in my life and never missed a day of work due to illness.

In 1943, I joined the army as combat infantry in the Pacific. I was discharged from the army in 1945. In 1946, I worked for a Chicago firm as a spray painter, using some lead based paints. In 1949, I rejoined
the army. I served in Korea as combat infantry in 1950 and suffered many hardships during the war. I chose to make the army my career and was stationed primarily at Fort Bliss, Texas, White Sands Proving
Grounds, New Mexico and Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. I worked with high-powered radars designed for research and development of an anti-missile missile system. In 1967, I retired from the army, moved to
Cedar Rapids, Iowa and worked for Rockwell Collins and later for Norand Corporation. I retired in 1983 and moved to Oquawka, Illinois where I spent time hunting, fishing and traveling. My wife and I moved back to the Cedar Rapids, area in May 1995.

By January 1995, I had intense pain in the rib area every time I coughed or sneezed but did not go to the doctor. In March 1996, I developed a middle back problem. I could not straighten up completely and when I
tried to do some painting, I developed severe muscle spasms in my middle back. After three doctors sent me home with muscle relaxers and pain pills, I went to an osteopath, who cured the muscle spasm in one day, but the doctor told me that I still had a serious back problem and ordered a bone scan. The radiologist said that I had bone cancer but I did not believe it. I was referred to an oncologist, Dr. Chirantan Ghosh. I spent a few days in the hospital and had many tests, including a Bone Marrow Biopsy. Dr. Ghosh diagnosed MM (non-secreting). I had a tumor on my spine which prevented me from standing straight, along with numerous rib lesions. I received twenty radiation treatments which eliminated the tumor and allowed me to stand straight.

I began chemotherapy (Melphalan, Cyclophosphamide and one other that I don't know the name of) and was also on Prednisone. I tolerated chemo very well until July when I developed extreme shortness of breath. It was found that the chemo had caused lung damage and the doctor decided to triple the Cyclophosphamide and eliminate the others. The chemo did not make me sick and I did whatever I wanted - mowed that lawn, waxed the car, weeded the garden, etc. I continued with this chemo for one
year.

In October 1997, I noticed I was losing sight in my right eye. The oncologist assured me that the cancer had nothing to do with this vision problem, so I had cataract surgery with no improvement. In fact, my
vision continued to deteriorate - I developed double vision, which disappeared in short time due to all loss of vision. I was told that this was due to macular degeneration and nothing could be done. I was
sure there was something else wrong. In January 1998, I made an appointment with a brilliant ophthalmologist, Dr. Lee Birchansky, who thoroughly examined my eye and agreed that the problem was external to my eye. I had an MRI which revealed tumors on the right side of my head, preventing my eye muscles and nerves from functioning. The eye problem was a result of MM and my right eye vision was permanently lost. At the same time, I fractured my right clavicle merely by picking up a light snow shovel. I was told that my bone density was very low. I received fifteen radiation treatments on the right side of my head and clavicle and started chemo again. (VAD) (Doxoruvic and Cincristine Sulfate). By February-March 1998, I was very ill with continuous stomach pain and shortness of breath. After three chemo treatments, it was decided that the chemo was doing more harm than good and it was
terminated.

In April 1998, I was hospitalized and many tests were performed looking for blood clots (looking for reasons for shortness of breath). No blood clots were found. Carafate solved my stomach problem and I noticed that I had regained very, very slight vision in my right eye. Prednisone was prescribed for my lung/breathing problem. The oncologist said there was no hope for me, that I had less than six months to live and signed me up with hospice. I didn't believe that I had only six months to live. A hospice nurse came to the house once a week, checked my blood pressure, pulse, listened to my lungs and heart and furnished medication. I believe hospice to be a very necessary and worthwhile program. By September 1998, it was obvious that I wasn't going to cooperate and die within six months as scheduled and I was discharged from hospice. My family says that I flunked hospice!

By October, 1998 I had practically no vision in my right eye due to the damage from the tumors and noticed that my left eye had become very blurry. In January 1999, I decided that since I wasn't going to die
right away, I would have cataract surgery on my left eye. At this time, I was nearly blind, couldn't drive or read any more and could barely make out anything on TV. The cataract surgery results were
unbelievable. I ended up with 20/30 vision without glasses - 20/20 with glasses in the left eye. I could read and drive again, even at night! It was such a wonderful result - we never expected that much
improvement.

In February of 1999, I developed a hoarse voice and was examined for lung cancer and tumors and my vocal chords, both of which were negative. Prilosec was prescribed, but has not helped much. Then in
March, I developed shingles and was given Valtrex which cured the shingles. I have been receiving Aredia once a month for eighteen months. My bone density must be much improved because there have been
no more broken bones and coughing causes no pain. I can lift fifty pounds and have fallen four times with no adverse effects. I have now lost forty pounds and three inches in height and I'm currently on 40 mg.
of Prednisone daily, which probably accounts for my good appetite and feeling good.

I hope my history provides some hope to other MM patients. I am a 76-year-old man who has survived over three years since diagnosis. I failed hospice, do not feel sick and do just about anything I want to. I
still enjoy life, but do not have the strength and stamina I once had, but that is understandable. Hang in there. Develop a positive attitude. Don't give up. If I can beat the odds, even temporarily at my age, so can you!

==================

I am sorry to say that my dad lost his very brave battle with MM on July 29, 1999. He never stopped living and was active until the end, even though we could see how ill he was. His death was sudden and unexpected - I believe his heart finally just gave out. He woke up that morning and started having a lot of back, chest and hip pain, which was unusual for him. We did not know what was happening. In a short time, he died very peacefully with his loving family beside him. The manner in which he lived his life and his bravery in this last battle is a source of great pride to his family. At this point, we are devastated by our loss and hope that we will have happy memories some day.

The following is a poem that I wrote for my dad.

I never would have guessed that day
The sorrow that would come my way
A part of me went with you then
My heart cannot be whole again
I'll never hear your voice again
Or see your bright blue eyes
Your hands are still, your work is done
Your brilliance is forever gone
You fought so hard and did your best
But now it's time for you to rest
You're with me everywhere I go
The greatest DAD that I loved so
And how I miss you every day
Although I knew you could not stay
My heart would break to see your pain
There was no sunshine, only rain
You taught me well and gave your love
Now you can watch me from above
I'll carry on your gentle way
And make you proud every day

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