"I Am Lucky To Be Alive!"
Cindy and Michael December 31, 2010
Michael Winkelman is a 58 year-old patent attorney and chemical engineer
who was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in March of 2003. Michael
and his wife Cindy have three grown children and reside in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Mr. Winkelman’s troubles began in December, 2002, when he developed
a painful, nonproductive cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. The
fits would leave him drained. He first sought medical attention in December
2002. He went to an immediate care facility where he was initially diagnosed
with bronchial pneumonia and prescribed antibiotics with no significant
relief of symptoms. In the following months he sought help again and received
several different diagnoses. None provided relief of the symptoms.
Approximately one month after his last diagnosis, towards the end of March,
2003 Michael’s wife noticed a lump near his abdomen and insisted
they go immediately to the emergency room. At the ER, he was asked if
he knew there was blood in his stool. Then he underwent a battery of tests
including chest films, CT scans bronchoscopy and colonoscopy. After carefully
reviewing the results, the ER doctors suspected malignancies in his abdomen
The following day, he underwent an exploratory laparotomy; there were two
tumors sites located, one in the colon and another site on the abdominal wall.
The larger tumor had invaded the parenchyma. The tumor was indicative of
an adenocarcinoma with sarcomatous features. Six regional lymph nodes
were tested and found negative for any malignancy. There was a metastic
adenocarcinoma present in the peritoneal implant. The specimens were sent
to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for further studies.
At the Mayo clinic, several tests performed on the specimens, including
immunoperoxidase studies, found that Michael was suffering from more than
one neoplastic process. The larger of the two colonic masses found was
a high grade carcinoma with extensive spindle cell differentiation, an
epithial neoplasm with extensive sarcomatoid. The small colonic mass appeared
to be epithelioid in nature. Testing performed on the peritoneal mass
revealed malignant mesothelioma.
Over the next three to four months Michael successfully completed eight–ten
chemotherapy treatments utilizing Camprosar (Irinotecan) and Gemzar (Gemcitabine)
due to the varieties of the cancers treated.
Michael often thanks God for his colon cancer and the observant eyes of
his surgeon who recognized it for what it was and sent the specimen to
the Mayo Clinic for confirmation.
“I've had several doctors since then tell me I'm lucky to
be alive, and the strange thing is, if it weren't for the colon cancer,
I probably wouldn't have found out about the peritoneal meso!”
Due to bi-annual CT scans, in June of 2011, it was discovered that Michael’s
colon cancer had returned. He underwent surgery at the end of July, in
which 10 inches of his small intestine were removed. In February, 2012,
he finished the last of 12 chemotherapy treatments utilizing Oxaliplatin
and 5 –FU (Fluorouracil). About half-way through his chemo treatment,
Michael began experiencing sharp chest pains; he thought he had pulled
a chest muscle. Michael’s doctors performed a CT scan which showed
that Michael had a pleurisy and a spot beneath his right breast. The pleurisy
went away and the chemo appears to be necrotizing the spot. He is scheduled
for another CT scan at the end of March, 2012.
With a hearty sigh, Michael states “7 1/2 years with no cancer signs
and it comes back. But I'm still here!! And I still have my hair!
Michael joined the Live Strong program which helps cancer patients through
support, exercise and healthy eating. He is still recovering from his
recent chemo treatments which were harder on him than his chemo back in
2003. He looks forward to the warmer weather and being able to do more
walking and exploring local trails near his home.
He remains very appreciative of the Worthington Law firm, stating that
“The settlements thru them have been a major help as I've not
worked fulltime since the first diagnosis in 2003.”
Stay strong Michael!
Posted on March 9, 2012