Adeline and James Towery
A picture of health, Dr. James Towery was enjoying his retirement in Parrish,
Florida with a zest we all wish for. An avid runner, golfer, grandfather
to 14 and the leader of the Silver Threads band, his days were full and fun.
After raising five children, which he proudly boasts are all college educated,
James and Adeline Towery retired in 1992 and moved from the cold bitter
winters of Michigan to the always balmy and warm Florida. The weather
in the south allowed him to comfortably continue his running, up to eighteen
miles a week, as well as play at least three rounds of golf a week. A
ten handicap, James was intent on lowering his average score. He always
walked the eighteen holes, all six foot, four inches of him.
One of his most fulfilling pleasures was playing the saxophone with his
dance band, The Silver Threads. The Silver Threads had gigs every week
and always played to a packed house at venues and events throughout the
Bradenton, Florida area. With a lung capacity above the average 70 year
old, James could belt out a Woody Herman or Benny Goodman tune with the
best of them.
Dr. Towery's dance band - The Silver Threads
With Dr. James Towery on Saxophone
In the fall of 2000, James began to experience unusual shortness of breath
and some chest pain. He went to his doctor in Bradenton, Florida who took
several chest films which revealed fluid in his left chest cavity. A CAT
scan was also taken. A thoracentesis was performed where approximately
two quarts of fluid were removed. Cytological tests were negative for
any malignancy, and Dr. Towery was sent home.
Thirteen days later, the fluid returned, and so did James, to his doctor's
office. A second thoracentesis was performed and another two quarts of
fluid were removed. Again the cytology was negative. At this time, his
doctors wanted to perform a talc pleurodesis, but Dr. Towery was afraid
that after the procedure, he would no longer be able to play the sax.
James declined the talc procedure.
Approximately five days later, the fluid returned. James underwent a third
thoracentesis, this time at the Blake Hospital in Bradenton. This cycle
repeated itself for the next several months. Overall, he had seven thoracentesis,
three performed at his doctor's office, two at the Blake Hospital
and one at the VA Hospital. In all, over twenty-four quarts of fluid were
removed from his chest in a little over a four month time period.
Dr. James Towery
April 20, 2001
On December 22, after a severe atrial fibrulation, James was rushed to
the hospital and underwent a thoracoscopy, talc pleurodesis and another
thoracentesis. The pathology was inconclusive, but suspicious for mesothelioma.
The tissue specimens were sent to the IMPATH laboratories in New York,
which returned a diagnosis of epithelial malignant mesothelioma.
He was not offered any viable treatment options and returned home, taking
a 'wait and see' approach.
In late March, Dr. Towery again began to feel a pain in his left side.
A chest film revealed that the fluid had returned. During the first week
of April, he underwent a second talc procedure and a second thoracoscopy.
His doctors then informed him that his mesothelioma was stage IV. Surgery
was not an option. Dr. Towery inquired about chemotherapy regimens, but
learned that there were not any conventional treatments that would kill
or shrink the tumor. He also learned that the toxic drugs would probably
make him more ill and weaker, so he thought it prudent to avoid that route.
He watches his diet carefully, juices regularly and drinks flo-essence
tea at least three times a day and Chinese green tea once a day. His weight
is down to 172 pounds, from his normally rock-solid 210 pounds.
Dr. Towery is keeping a positive mind set and
trying his best to pursue the things he's always loved. As recently as April 12, he completed
eighteen holes of golf, shooting a 43 on the back nine, although every
swing of the club was painful. He is unable to walk the course and therefore
rides a golf cart. He experiences shortness of breath walking from the
cart to his golf ball. He still plays the saxophone with a huge degree
of difficulty and shortness of breath. He has to have his instruments
carried to each gig by his band mates - but more often than not, this
task is performed by his dear wife Adeline.
We will keep you posted on this determined individual.
*** POSTED MAY 9, 2001 ***
Dr. Towery passed away on December 13, 2001