(L-R) Ivonne, Eduardo's mother Imelda, Eduardo, Eduardo's brother Miguel w/grandson William and daughter Laura
Eduardo Sanchez was born and raised in Guatemala. In 1963, he moved to
the United States in search of a better life. He found steady work in
the Los Angeles area as a laborer and automobile mechanic. He married
and started a family. In 1982, he proudly became a United States citizen.
Eduardo Sanchez had indeed found a better life, until the summer of 2002,
when his American Dream turned into an American Nightmare.
That summer, Eduardo developed a dry, hacking cough he could not shake.
He also began feeling unusually fatigued. He went to a neighborhood clinic
where several tests were performed. A chest film was not taken. After
the doctors reviewed the results of the tests, Eduardo was informed that
he might possibly be suffering from asthma. He was prescribed medication
and sent home.
By August, Eduardo had lost nearly 20 pounds. His symptoms had not improved.
He traveled to the Martin Luther King Hospital in Los Angeles. He was
given a tuberculosis skin test which resulted in a positive reading and
prompted the ordering of a chest film and later a CT and PET scans. The
images revealed extensive pleural thickening as well as a pleural effusion
in the left thoracic cavity.
On October 1, 2002, Eduardo was admitted to the Martin Luther King Hospital
where he underwent a lung tissue biopsy. In a nearby hospital, his daughter
Ivonne was giving birth to his first grandchild.
On October 8, Eduardo and Ivonne were informed by the thoracic surgeon
that the tests performed on the removed tissue revealed a diagnosis of
malignant mesothelioma. The doctor explained to him that there is no cure
Eduardo at his daughter Ivonne's graduation from Cal State Northridge.
May 30, 2002
They were referred to the oncology department at the City of Hope Hospital
in Los Angeles. The oncologists reviewed Eduardo's medical records
and informed him of the various treatment options available, including
radiation and chemotherapy. The doctors also discussed surgical resection,
including an extra-pleural pneumonectomy or pleurectomy with decortication.
After careful consideration he decided on surgery. He and Ivonne then
began to research possible surgeons.
They learned of the UCLA Medical Center's Dr. Robert Cameron -- one
of the foremost treaters of mesothelioma in the world. Dr. Cameron explained
to them in detail what a pleurectomy / decortication entailed. Before
he could recommend that surgery, he advised Eduardo to undergo several
tests for the purpose of determining if there was any lymph node involvement.
In December, Eduardo underwent an exploratory mediastinoscopy procedure at UCLA.
The results of the mediastinoscopy showed that there was a tumor nodule
inside the right lung parenchyma (tissue). Dr. Cameron informed Eduardo
that because the lymph nodes were positive for cancer, he was unable to
recommend surgery. He then discussed using Alimta on a compassionate use
basis in hopes that the tumors, over time, would shrink enough in size
to be surgically excised.
Eduardo once again found himself searching for a physician, this time for
one able to administer the Alimta. Despite their efforts, the Sanchez
family hit a brick wall. For starters, Eduardo's insurance was limited
and several of the local physicians already enrolled in the Alimta expanded
access program were not accepting new patients. Or, the physicians were
so busy that Eduardo would have to wait weeks just to be seen. Eduardo
and Ivonne also spoke with some physicians that were not willing to put
their staff through the time-consuming procedure of applying for inclusion
in the Expanded Access program.
Eduardo at Ivonne's wedding.
June 30, 1990
The Sanchez family did not give up.
In mid-January, with the assistance of the staff at the Eli Lilly Expanded
Access program, Ivonne was able to locate a physician willing to help
her father. Eduardo received his first dose of Alimta on January 23, 2003.
The side-effects of the first treatment were "unbearable," according
to Eduardo. He was up every morning at 2 a.m. with severe stomach cramps
and nausea. According to Ivonne, the second treatment was not as bad and
Eduardo was thrilled not to get as sick as he did with the first treatment.
Eduardo has just completed his fourth treatment with Alimta. The latest
CT-scan reveals there has been some shrinkage in the tumor. Finally! Some
Since beginning his chemotherapy, Eduardo had lost his desire to eat. His
body weight has withered away to a mere 124 pounds. Since hearing the
results of the latest CT scan, he has renewed his fight and is beginning
to eat more and gain some strength. He is forcing himself to eat soups
and drink at least two nutritional liquid supplements a day.
Eduardo also must now fight the added stress stemming from his fears about
what is to become of his family. He worries about his wife Maria, who
has always been a stay-at-home mom. He married Maria in 1985. Maria does
not know how to drive and her English is very limited. She depends heavily
on Eduardo for many things. They have a 12-year old son who needs a strong
paternal presence in the home.
Eduardo, Eduardo Jr. and wife Maria at Eduardo's 1st Communion.
August 16, 2002
Eduardo had planned to spend his time focusing all his attention on his
son, guiding him through the perils found on the streets of Los Angeles.
He was once able to walk his son to karate lessons or to the park where
they would play. Unfortunately, now he cannot walk down the block without
gasping for air. He is also worried about his new grandson. He wonders
if he will ever get a chance to see him take his first steps, hear him
speak for the first time, or take him to the park and play.
Ivonne is saddened by what has become of her father. "He used to love
to read, and now he has lost all interest. He won't even read the
newspaper anymore." He can no longer do the things he once enjoyed,
like playing bingo, or driving to Las Vegas and Mexico. Thoughts about
a trip to Florida the family had planned for this coming summer have been
replaced by hopes that the Alimta treatments continue to work, that the
tumors will shrink, that Dr. Cameron can perform surgery as desired and
that Eduardo's life can be extended.
We will keep you posted on the progress of this persevering man and his family.
*** POSTED MAY 6, 2003 ***
Mr. Sanchez passed away on August 22, 2003