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George Burroughs


1932 / Class of '93 / Type IgG / Died 1-18-99

I would like to share a story about my father, George Burroughs who died from Multiple Myeloma on January 18,1999.

My Dad grew up in Tupelo, MS - born in 1932 and lived there until he left for a 20 year service in the Air Force. His time in the military carried him practically all over the world-including time in Vietnam. He shared with us that he had indeed been exposed to Agent Orange while on duty there. Over the course of his military career, he developed several lung problems such as emphysema. (He smoked for about 15-20 years of his life.)

In about 1971-72 he developed severe back problems and was diagnosed with ankylosing spondilitis. After about 5 years of pain, his vertebrae fused together and he was permanently stooped over, unable to ever lie flat again--but the pain was gone. The next 16 years went by fairly uneventful healthwise--with the exception of a PTCA in 1990. In January of 1993, he started to complain of pain in the rib area. After heart problems were ruled out, he felt somewhat relieved. Weeks went by and the pain became so severe that he could not even ride in the car to doctors appointments without crying out.

By the end of January the pain was now radiating to his back. We went to 2 doctors in Tupelo and they both agreed he was suffering pleuritic pain. He took the meds they prescribed, but the pain only intensified. On February 10th we finally took him to a well known Oncologist in Memphis (Dr. Schwartzberg). The next day he was diagnosed with MM. On the second day, radiation and chemo were
given, although I don't remember the type chemo he took at that time. He was told he was in stage III and would likely survive no more than 5 years. But Dad was not a quitter-he fought MM with everything he had.

After 3 weeks in Memphis, we came home to Tupelo and used Dr. Julian Hill (oncologist). Dad did very well with Alkeran and Prednisone treatments every month for about 4-1/2 years. Then one day while at work at my Mom's cushion company, Dad fell flat on his back onto the concrete floor. I believe that just reactivated the MM. From then on his IGG levels were from 3000-6000 and could not be controlled with prior treatment methods. He also took an Aredia drip every 3 weeks which he said did not hurt nor help him. His pain intensified, especially in his hips and legs. He started VAD for several rounds in September 1998. That was not helping -- he just got weaker and weaker requiring blood transfusions about every 10 days. He tried Cytoxan also and that was not helpful either.

MM had taken over. He fought as hard as he could and was offered to go to U of Ark for a trial in November but he refused politely saying that he had lived a full life with 5 children and a wonderful wife and felt too weak to attempt to leave his home for the risk of not being able to return. We all respected that. We got to spend one more Christmas with him although his tired body was unable to get out of bed. On Jan. 14th he became very lethargic and unresponsive from the calcium levels in his blood and we got him to the hospital. No one had to tell us -- we knew he was dying. On Jan 15th we got the ambulance to take him back home because he had always said that is where he wanted to die. On January 18th at 2:05pm with all of his family at his side we watched the angels come and take him home. He was without pain -- finally. 


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