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Bob Eilers


  Seattle, Washington

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 blood pressure.

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 this.

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 97

6/15/97 Restaging - lesion on left humerus treated with radiation/surgical pin

8/15/97 Pain in ribs and spine - multiple lesions found. - interferon discontinued

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

I was quite saddened to learn of the death of Bob Eilers. I met Bob in 1957 when we both were freshmen at the University of Illinois. He lived in the same residential hall that I did and lived in an adjoining room. Throughout his life I watched him get married and have a little boy, Jeffrey, who died in an automobile accident. I used to baby-sit the little boy while Bob and his then-wife (Sue--an employee of IBM in New York) would go to the 50-cent movies.

I was so saddened and shocked to learn about the last few years of his suffering. Although I have no idea who will read this I wanted to try and personalize his life. Bob was always stoic and did not burden anyone with his suffering. I am sure that his personality fought with all of his available strength. I just wish that I could have been there for him.

Please communicate with me if you wish. Thank you for listening.

Larry Blankenship


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