Staff Sergeant Louis DiBona - 1944
From the time he graduated high school in 1940 until his retirement in
1986, Louis DiBona was a hard working coppersmith/pipefitter at the Quincy
Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts. He retired at the age of 65 with the
same hopes and dreams of all retirees: more time to visit with family,
more time to relax and more time to pursue his hobbies. He also hoped
for continued good health.
Since he retired, Mr. DiBona kept himself in tip-top shape. He enjoyed
lifting weights and taking long walks to keep physically fit. In the summer
of 1998, he began to slowly lose weight. He was not sure why. He also
began to tire more easily.
After several months, he became more short of breath while performing normal
activities. He decided he could no longer ignore his symptoms. He soon
met with his doctors and after a preliminary set of tests it was their
opinion that he was suffering from pleurisy and perhaps pneumonia.
In June of 1999, a chest film was taken which showed that fluid had accumulated
on his left lung. The fluid was subsequently drained by doctors at the
Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The fluid was analyzed by
the pathology department, which proved to be negative for cancer cells.
Soon after, the fluid returned, and so did Mr. DiBona to his doctors. A
second draining was performed which immediately relieved Mr. DiBona's
discomfort. This pattern was repeated twice more, and each time the fluid
analysis returned negative for cancer.
When the doctors at Carney became frustrated as to the cause of the fluid,
they recommended Mr. DiBona meet with Dr. Michael Jaklitsch, a thoracic
surgeon at the Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
On September of 1999, Dr. Jaklitsch, performed a pleuroscopy via an incision
under the left armpit. Dr. Jaklitsch saw a tumor in the left chest cavity,
and harvested tissue samples. The pathology department returned a diagnosis
of malignant mesothelioma of the pleura. The cell type was an epithelial.
Dr.Jaklitsch then scheduled Mr. DiBona for a pleurectomy in October of
1999. Mr. DiBona's brother worked alongside him at Quincy Shipyard
and died of mesothelioma in the mid-1960s. His brother showed him how
to mix and apply fireproofing in the engine rooms and boiler rooms of
ships docked at Quincy. Mr. DiBona vividly remembered his brother's
suffering, so the night before the surgery, he decided not to proceed.
Mr. DiBona now meets once a week with a "spiritual healer" in
Medford, Massachusetts. They pray together and the healer applies "hands
on" healing. Mr. DiBona states that at the end of the meeting, he
feels physically better and emotionally "up beat!" His spiritual
healer even takes Mr. Dibona to talk with other cancer patients.
Mr. DiBona meets with Dr. Jaklitsch approximately every four to six weeks.
At each visit, Dr. Jaklitsch performs a thoracentesis. When he first told
Dr. Jaklitsch of his decision to use a spiritual healer, as opposed to
conventional treatment methods, Mr. DiBona thought Dr. Jaklitsch would
be upset. He was surprised when Dr.Jaklitsch told him, "Upset? Why
would I be upset? I'm not here for me, I'm here for you!"
Mr. DiBona cannot say enough good things about Dr.Jaklitsch. "He is
a very understanding doctor and a fine man. I am lucky to have him."
Louis and Jeanne DiBona
The DiBonas understand that the tumor is located outside the lining of
the left lung. Dr. Jaklitsch believes that Mr. DiBona's left lung
is no longer operational, but credits his survival among other things
to a robust right lung. On his last visit with Dr. Jaklitsch, Mr. DiBona
was told that it looked like his mesothelioma had not changed in over a year.
Mentally, Mr. DiBona is extremely alert. Physically, he still gets winded
and tires easily. He has recently overcome shingles. He has a voracious
appetite, "I eat up a storm!" He frequently experiences heartburn
at the end of his evening meal. Dr. Jaklitsch attributes this to his increasing
immune system. Dr. Jaklitsch is amazed at Mr. DiBona's health. He
tells Mr. DiBona, "Whatever you're doing, keep on doing it."
As of November 1, Mr. DiBona continues to co-exist with his mesothelioma.
He sleeps more than he used to, but when he is awake he is fairly active.
He tries to lift weights with his son a few times every week. He does
all the grocery shopping and still tries to walk every day. He enjoys
eating breakfast with his wife of fifty-three years and together they
enjoy going on walks and performing household chores. He tries not to
think about the mesothelioma, "I pray a lot, and don't think
According to his daughter, "My dad feels that he has lived as long
as he has because he is taking an attitude that this illness is not going
to kill him."
*** POSTED NOVEMBER 20, 2000 ***
An Update -- 1/17/01
According to Louis' daughter, his energy level is still very low and
he continues to experience shortness of breath. Louis is more concerned
over the health of his beloved wife, Jeanne, than himself.
Hang in there Louis.
Mr. Louis Dibona passed away on February 9, 2001