Gloria and Phil Serrins
Gloria Serrins is a 54 year-old mother of three beautiful daughters who
lives in Mission Viejo with her husband, Phil, to whom she has been married
for 31 years. Outgoing, vivacious, and completely dedicated to her family,
Gloria now finds herself in a scenario that no one could have predicted.
In July, 2007 Gloria realized that something was wrong with her health.
Vigorous, athletic, and normally full of energy, she could feel that something
was out of synch, but didn't know what it was. At first Gloria thought
it might be the flu, but that didn't explain the constant discomfort
she felt whenever she was seated.
The discomfort caused her to fidget, and ultimately to have problems sleeping.
Since Gloria always slept on her right side, it was too painful to lie down.
Trouble in paradise
Gloria and Phil were approaching their 31st wedding anniversary and he
had set up a cruise to Alaska. Normally engaged and excited to be doing
things with "the love of her life," Gloria simply couldn't
muster any excitement about being away from home. The trip was extremely
important to Phil so that they could celebrate their marriage, and also
because Phil's father had died at an early age after a lifetime of
hard work. "I made up my mind early on that I'd take those extra
minutes, hours, and days to be with my family. I miss my father every
single day, and vowed that the only thing we really have in life-time-I
would share with Gloria and the girls."
Phil Serrins adores his wife, and he had sacrificed an 80-hour week career
track to lead a lifestyle that would let him be there for them. Whether
it was the school play, a family weekend trip, or traveling for soccer
games, Phil and Gloria pulled together for thirty-one years, always in
the same direction, always with the same goals in mind, always bound together by love.
Gloria vowed not to say anything to Phil about the pain because she knew
that if he had any inkling, he would cancel the cruise and have her in
front of a doctor immediately. The cruise was terrible, with Gloria's
discomfort descending into misery, compounded by an inability to sleep
more than a couple of hours each night. Gloria was still afraid to say
anything because Phil had developed a pain in his right eye during the
trip and she was petrified that they would both be sick at the same time.
Unable to withstand the pain any longer, she told Phil when they returned
to California, after having endured almost unbearable pain and sleep deprivation
on an ocean-bound cruise.
Just as she had known he would, Phil whisked Gloria to St. Joseph's,
where a CT scan, MRI, and x-ray revealed spots on her lung. Dr. Brian
Palafox was unable to conclusively diagnose, so Phil took charge. He got
on the Internet and began consulting with doctors who he knew through
his chiropractic practice.
Dr. Palafox affirmed that the only way to get a conclusive diagnosis was
via a tissue biopsy. On Oct. 15 Gloria went in for surgery and, and the
surgeon performed the biopsy and a talc pleurodesis. Subsequent immunohistochemical
staining confirmed mesothelioma, biphasic type. When the Serrins learned
that the oncologist recommended by Dr. Palafox only saw one mesothelioma
case per year, they decided to continue looking.
Gloria was diagnosed with bi-phasic pleural mesothelioma on October 16, 2007.
Following her diagnosis, Gloria consulted with Dr. Cameron in Los Angeles,
and Dr. Rusch and Dr. Pass in New York. All three surgeons determined
that Gloria as not a candidate for surgery because of the cell type and
advanced stage of her disease. Gloria began treating with one of the nation's
leading medical oncologists, Dr. Vogelzang at the Nevada Caner Institute
in Las Vegas.
Despite an aggressive and arduous regimen of chemotherapy, Gloria consulted
with Dr. Cameron again after her doctors determined that the Alimta/cisplatin
regimen was not working. Unfortunately, she was still ineligible for surgery.
Although a different chemo cocktail showed no progression of the tumor,
it failed to show that the tumor had shrunk, either.
Chemotherapy has been discontinued, and five weeks from now she will do
another CT scan to look into additional treatment. Gloria is struggling
her hardest to keep the cancer at bay.
An American family
Gloria was born in 1953 in Goeppening, Germany, the daughter of a U.S.
WWII army veteran and a German national. Her father, Francisco "Frank"
Carillo, brought the family to the U.S. that same year, and the family
relocated in southern California.
Serrins Family - 2006
Gloria and Phil's first daughter, Ricki-Ann, was born in1980. The family
moved to Mission Viejo because Phil was studying to be a chiropractor.
Gloria and Phil's second daughter, Stacy, was born in 1981, and their
daughter Lindsey was born in 1984. After Lindsey's birth, Gloria became
a full time housewife.
The dynamic and loving Serrins family has been built in large part by the
unstinting love and devotion of Gloria. The unique character of each daughter
was carefully nurtured so that each grew up to be a mature and responsible
adult. Ricki-Ann loved being outside, and never played with dolls but
liked sports, bikes, and action. Ricki-Ann played little league baseball
as the only girl on her team, and later became an accomplished soccer
player. Stacy loved play with Gloria's jewelry, makeup, and clothing.
At age three she entered dance school, and learned tap and ballet. Gloria
would drive Ricki-Ann to soccer practice and Stacy to dance class and
had to coordinate the transportation so no time was wasted. Stacy danced
until she was twelve. The family never missed going to one of Stacy's recitals.
Like her older sisters, Lindsey was always busy with sports and dance,
and Gloria spent all her time taking care of the three girls. Gloria would
volunteer at the girls' elementary school until eventually she was
at the school every single day. With three daughters at the same school
at the same time, she helped the teachers any way she could. Gloria took
care of other children as well, and when she became familiar with the
kids and their parents she'd set aside Friday as the day to take her
daughters and their friends to lunch at Taco Bell. The kids loved having
Gloria in the classroom, and Phil would often come by the school on his
lunch break. The daughters loved having their parents around at school.
Ricki-Ann graduated from the University of Maryland on a soccer scholarship.
Gloria and Phil 2006
Ricki-Ann is an assistant soccer coach at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Stacy attended Santa Barbara City College where she studied art and dance.
Stacy graduated from beauty college and works as an esthetician at the
Montage Resort at Laguna Beach. Lindsey was recruited to UCLA for their
crew team, and graduated in 2005 as a history major. She now works as
an elementary school teacher in New Orleans, near her older sister. All
three daughters attribute their success to their nurturing, involved,
and tireless mother. Gloria's devotion and dedication to her family,
and her extraordinary toughness, are exemplified best when she says, with
no trace of pride, "All three of my girls were natural childbirths.
I didn't want it any other way."
After thirty-one years of marriage, Gloria and Phil have grown together
spiritually and emotionally. They both love to garden and spend their
weekends together in the yard. With numerous flowers in the yard, the
centerpiece is Gloria's rose garden. Gloria loves crafts, decorating,
wildlife, and dogs. She has a blue-gold macaw that chatters gregariously
in their home, and two Australian shepherds, Berkeley and Mac. She and
Phil love to take their daily promenade around the neighborhood, and they
enjoy walking along the nearby nature trails and wilderness areas.
"Gloria always kept things in check and kept me on track," Phil
says in disbelief, shaking his head at the catastrophic calamity that
has befallen his family. "She was the one who was reasoned and even-handed
with the kids. She never rushes to judgment or breezes past things. Gloria
sees life, where most people just run through it. If she's on skis,
she won't race down the mountain, but will stop and look at the trees
and the animals, and even at the snow. We go to movies all the time. While
the kids were growing up it was about Gloria being there to see them and
raise them. We went to every school function, not just to be supportive
but to be together. And now…" his voice trails off, "…this."
*** POSTED APRIL 7, 2008 ***
Gloria Serrins passed away on June 28, 2008