Mark Neuman is an 82 year-old retired Naval engineer who proudly served
the United States Navy between 1941 and 1949 as an Electrician's Mate
during World War II. He continued in this line of work, enrolling in the
University of Pittsburgh in 1949 and graduating with a degree in electrical
engineering in three years.
Over the next 35 years, he supervised Naval projects across the country,
bringing from design to reality endeavors that measurably enhanced the
viability of the United States fleet. He continued his civilian work contracting
with the U.S. Navy for the rest of his career, working as a chief test
engineer, ensuring that equipment was installed and utilized properly.
He worked as a plant manager, qualified for courses normally restricted
to Navy personnel and instructed sailors how to operate the complex machinery
that defined their jobs.
He has resided in Bayshore, Oregon, since 1986, after moving there with
his wife, Jeanne. They were looking forward to a long retirement together.
Mark and Jeanne liked to walk, eat out and drive across the country together,
making a point to visit the East Coast and their roots at least once a
year. They used to garden together, although since Jeanne passed away
from cancer just over a year ago, he has gardened less.
RETIREMENT GONE AWRY
In the spring of 2001, Mark was having some difficulty breathing. On May
16, he went to the hospital with a right pleural effusion and undetermined
right parenchymal disease. Staff at the hospital gave him a chest film
and found pleural thickening, "vague densities in the right lower
lung field," and "infiltrate in the mid to lower right lung
field and left base." Indicators suggested some lung volume loss,
and Dr. John Gotchall, his physician, diagnosed pneumonia, prescribing
Mark returned for further scans and a follow-up exam on June 5. On this
visit, Dr. Gotchall observed that the pleural effusion was not responding
to treatment and was in fact growing, and there were several nodular densities
on the lobes of his lungs. Mark was still experiencing trouble breathing
upon exertion, and his "pneumonia" was not diminishing. On August
1, Dr. Charles Beck examined Mark's films and noted his prior work-related
asbestos exposure. He suggested that they might not be treating pneumonia
but actually mesothelioma.
The next day, Mark returned to the Corvallis Clinic and Dr. Gotchall for
further evaluation. Mark reported that he was experiencing back pain from
his lumbar region to his interscapular region, and he was waking up every
two hours at night from this pain. Dr. Gotchall listened to Mark's
breathing and could hear a dullness in his right lower lung field. Dr.
Gotchall attributed the pain to the pleural effusion, and scheduled to
see Mark again on August 8 after reviewing his most recent scans.
On August 8, Dr. Gotchall examined Mark's most recent scans, observing
that his pleural effusion was still increasing in volume. He was able
to see a 12mm nodule with shaggy borders on the mid-left upper lobe of
Mark's lung. Additionally, he could see scarring in that location
and some scarring and densities in the left lung base, indicating that
Mark's volume of functioning lung was diminishing. Dr. Gotchall could
also see two other right peritracheal nodes measuring 11 mm in diameter.
Fearing a bronchogenic carcinoma and possibly malignant mesothelioma,
Dr. Gotchall recommended an exploratory thoracotomy with pleurodesis,
to which Mark consented.
Five days later, on August 13, Dr. Gotchall performed the surgery and took
several biopsies. Initial testing on the biopsies indicated a diagnosis
of mesothelioma, and subsequent immunohistochemical staining confirmed
the diagnosis. Dr. Gotchall gave Mark the news on August 15 and, considering
Mark's advanced age, advised that he receive an expert opinion from
Dr. Eric Vallieres at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.
Dr. Vallieres is one of the world's foremost treaters of mesothelioma
and a member of the Science Advisory Board of the Mesothelioma Applied
Research Foundation (MARF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity whose mission
is to eradicate mesothelioma as a life-ending disease.
Dr. Gotchall also advised Mark that since the tumor had begun showing symptoms
some time ago, was now yielding a diagnosis and was clearly visible on
the scans, it was slowly gaining mass.
A COMPROMISE, MAYBE A SOLUTION
Dr. Vallieres seconded Dr. Gotchall's opinion. Because of Mark's
age and the physical stress of most treatments, there was nothing he could
do. He advised Mark to live healthy, eat healthy and wait.
For now, that is exactly what Mark intends to do. He tries to take as little
medication as possible for the pain, although he admits that stretching
out at night and sleeping is not what it used to be. He tries to walk,
but he is careful, so as not to lose too much breath. He spends about
five hours a week as president of the Bayshore Beach Club, making sure
the 200 permanent residents and over 800 other families who make their
home there at some time can live comfortably and have a home and a neighborhood
they can be proud of.
Mark Neuman actively pursued an exciting life full of adventures, working
on the cutting edge of technology and anticipating new assignments. With
his newest fight, though, he has chosen watchful waiting, hoping for a
breakthrough in available treatment, and for more life. We will keep you
posted on the progress of this fine gentleman, who served his country
*** POSTED FEBRUARY 5, 2002 ***
Mr. Mark Neuman passed away on April 22, 2003