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Denver Wayne Little


Ohio; (daughter)

1942 / Class of '99 / Lytic lesions, chemo / Died 11-26-1999

I am Jackie Saylor, the daughter of a Multiple Myeloma patient who lost the battle to this horrible disease.  My father, Denver Wayne Little, was born November 11,  1942.  He grew up in the small town of Coshocton, Ohio.  As an adult he worked as a coal miner for almost 19 years.  Most of this time spent in underground mines, which made it difficult considering he was 6' 7'' tall.  For those who aren't familiar with these conditions, the height of the tunnels were usually about 3 to 4 feet high.  After being laid off from the mines, he worked for a local fuel company delivering fuel oil to local residents for 5 years.  Then due to a double cornea transplant, and partial blindness, he had to go on disability. This was very hard for him because he had always been a hard working, independent man.      

Dad had always suffered back pain, due to what doctors thought was arthritis from years of  working underground.  Finally in the spring of 1999 dad's pain was so unbearable, he could hardly move and was referred to a specialist.  While waiting for a visit to the spine clinic, dad became very ill and was hospitalized with an infected esophagus.  He had to have emergency surgery to open his airway.  During the time he was in the hospital, his kidneys failed.  So after several tests, on August 13, 1999, dad was diagnosed with multiple Myeloma.  We found out at this time that dad did not have arthritis in his spine, but was suffering from a compressed spinal cord due to a tumor.  He also had several fractured vertebrae. The doctors said his bones looked like Swiss cheese from all the lytic lesions.  Radiation helped relieve some of the pain and nerve damage from the tumor on his spine, but surgery was too risky because the tumor surrounded his spinal cord.  

He was transferred from our local hospital to the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital in Columbus,  Ohio where he began VAD treatment.  Dad developed bowel complications due to the VAD and diverticulitis.  He had to have a portion of his bowel removed and had a colostomy.  But being the fighter that he was, he managed to overcome this obstacle and returned home.  Dr. Michael Stanek, his oncologist, decided to try Melphalan and Decadron, instead of VAD.  This worked for several months with partial response, and for a while we thought it might work.  Dad managed to get some strength back and with the help of oramorph and msir for pain he was able to enjoy most of the summer of 2000.  But, in September he developed Pneumonia and was back at the James.  

By this time the cancer was slowly progressing and dad had to have transfusions because his platelets were dropping daily.  He came home, and although he could hardy walk, and was in severe pain most of the time, he still would not give up the fight.  With a last, desperate attempt to slow down the cancer, Doc put dad on Thalidomide.  He started the Thalidomide on Oct. 13, 2000.  It seems things just went downhill from there.  He grew weaker as the days went by, and ended up having another transfusion.  This time for red blood cells. Then we found more lytic lesions on his pelvis and had to try radiation, but his blood counts were so low, he could only get 5 treatments.  Finally, on Nov. 26, dad just got to the point where he couldn't even get out of bed.  

On Nov. 28, at 5:30 am we took dad to the hospital to try to help him find comfort for the pain.  My sister and I were with him when he finally lost his fight at 9:50am. I watched my father go from a 6' 7", 300lb. man of steel to a 200lb. helpless victim. He fought every inch of the way and he will always be my hero, for his will to live.  Even though he knew there was no cure, he did not once think he couldn't beat it and he never gave up trying, even in the end.  

I have never lost anyone close to me in my 32 years of life and to have to watch a loved one suffer the way my father did was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. The only positive thing I can say is that now my father is at peace.  I offer my deepest sympathy to those of you who have been through or are facing this awful disease. 


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