Mail received by: Charlotte_Lawton@so.xerox.com
1927 / Class of '86 / Died: 1/98
Thank you and everyone on the network for all your kind words regarding my Uncle Harold. He grew up in Owensboro, Kentucky but has lived most of his adult life in Washington D.C. His daughter (who also died of myeloma at age 35) lived in Washington D.C. all of her life. As a police officer he worked on detail at the Smithsonian and for the Park police around the Washington Monument area. He is one of 7 children. Six of the seven have been identified with a variety of cancers including breast cancer, malignant brain tumors, and colon cancer. Uncle Harold was the only one with myeloma. There seems to be a high incidence of cancer in the small town of Owensboro, Kentucky where these people were born. Some assume that it may be directly linked with the local high school that was built on a dioxin or chemical waste dump of some type. It has since been closed. No studies have been done so there is nothing that demonstrates a definite linkage. Three of the seven siblings have died from cancer including my mother who was the first to die in 1966 from a brain tumor. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer, a malignant stomach tumor, and 2 brain tumors before her untimely death. The only sibling not diagnosed as yet with cancer is the youngest who is 62 years old.
Frankly, I am not as informed as I would like to be on all of the treatments he went thru but after a discussion with several of his sisters here is what I have pieced together in my own uninformed layman's terms:
He retired on disability from the police department in 1969 due to back problems.
He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1986 at age 59.
It affected his spinal cord and turned the bone into looking like Swiss cheese, a degenerative condition that caused the collapse of the bone.
He had 5 operations over the last 12 years to rebuild the vertebra/spine and remove as much of the tumors as possible.
He had taken radiation after each surgery however, surgery was not recommended during the last few months because of the amount of radiation prior and the great possibility that the surgery would be ineffective because his skin tissue would not heal. There was no new area to radiate.
He had also taken chemo previously but he turned it down this go round because of how ill it made him.
He was offered but refused something called Interferon. His research indicated it was not a good drug for him.
He had an excellent surgeon located in Washington, D.C. and was willing to have surgery after he did his own investigation of the process and the drugs that would be administered. Most importantly, he was always mobile until this last few months, he had a regular routine of golf, bowling, and gambling junkets to Atlantic City. Within 30 days following his surgeries he would begin to get back into his activities.
He was also taking Oxycontin, but we believe that was for pain.
He was 71 when he passed and had been very active in researching and approving his treatments from the start of the diagnosis, and disapproving any that did not seem promising. Although he was in severe pain for several weeks, finally thru a hospice program they were able to get him comfortable with morphine. We are grateful his pain was brief and his time with us was long, happy, and active. His daughter had died of the same disease at age 35 within a span of approximately 3 years.
I am sure this is not as technical and detailed as you would like but it is my best effort right now. If I find anything more I will update you. Please forward to everyone on the network. I thank them for their kindness. May God bless and keep you in the spirit.
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