Albert Tkac is a seventy (70) year old retired boiler tender from Battle
Creek, Michigan. Mr. Tkac proudly served his country during The War as
a boiler tender in the United States Navy. He received the Korean Service
Medal and the K-9 Star National Defense Service Medal.
Albert first began to have pain in his back and chest in mid-August of
1998. He had been previously diagnosed with Paget's disease (skeletal
disease of the elderly with chronic inflammation of bones resulting in
thickening and softening of bones, and bowing of long bones). Albert went
to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland where the doctors treated him
for Paget's disease. When his symptoms did not improve, he went back
home to Battle Creek, Michigan and made an appointment with doctors at
the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A chest
film and CT scan revealed extensive pleural thickening as well as a suspected
paratracheal mass. Albert's breathing became labored and he was put
The doctors at the University of Michigan performed a fine needle biopsy
on December 30, 1998. The results were inconclusive. A thoroscopy was
attempted but the paratracheal mass prevented the procedure. On January
12, 1999, Dr. Michael S. Mulligan, thoracic surgeon, performed a transbronchial
biopsy. The pathologists examined the tissue and diagnosed mesothelioma.
Dr. Mulligan recommended Dr. Harvey Pass, Chief of Thoracic Oncology,
at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan for
a second opinion. Dr. Pass is a surgical oncologist whose reputation in
the medical and scientific circles as a mesothelioma expert is well known.
Albert met with Dr. Pass on January 28, 1999. After Dr. Pass' examination,
it was established that because of an axillary node and because of the
type of mesothelioma, Albert was unfortunately not a good candidate for
an extra-pleural pneumonectomy (EPP). Albert and his family then focused
on a non-surgical approach to the treatment of his mesothelioma. Dr. Pass
counseled Albert and his family regarding the Alfacell Adriamycin/Onconase
protocol. This type of treatment interested Albert. Albert was given an
informed consent and blood was drawn potentially for randomization in
the study. He was scheduled to begin Adriamycin/Onconase treatments on
February 18, 1999. The Onconase/Adriamycin chemotherapy will be essentially
an eighteen (18) week course with six (6) doses of Adriamycin or eighteen
(18) weeks of Onconase.
Albert is in a great deal of pain and has been prescribed methadone. He
is also a patient at the Pain Management Group at the University of Michigan
Medical Center. This is what we hate most about this disease. Here is
a man who has fought for his country, served his country, provided for
his family, contributed to his community and now he is stricken with a
terrible tumor. Each waking second is reminder that the tumor is relentless.
He cannot breathe without supplemental oxygen and peace comes only through
narcotics. We need to find a cure for this dread disease.
We are talking to Dr. Pass about the creation of the Mesothelioma Research
Foundation, which will be dedicated to raising funds to provide research
grants to top notch scientists who can pool their expertise in the common
fight to prevent and/or cure this despicable disease. How many more Albert
Tkacs must suffer before we get serious about mobilizing against this
Albert and his wife of forty-three (43) years, Evelyn make their retirement
home in Battle Creek, Michigan. Together Albert and Evelyn have three
children - two (2) sons and one (1) daughter. Jeffery and Dana both live
in California. Jaye Tkac is a firefighter.
*** POSTED MARCH 24, 1999 ***
August 13, 1999
Albert fought to the end, which came on July 26. Our thoughts and prayers
are with the Tkac Family. As Albert's son Jaye so poignantly stated:
"My father entered into rest on July 26,1999 after battling this
god awful disease for nine months. He died at home with my Mom and us
kids by his side just the way he wanted it. He was such a fighter, he
lasted much longer then Dr. Pass thought he should have, he went down
swinging. Thank you so much for all the help you have given us, keep up
the great work."
Jaye A. Tkac