The George Family
Jacqueline "Jackie" George, a 53-year-old florist, wife, mother
of two fine sons, and grandmother, was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma
on or about May 3, 2000. Jackie and her husband, Dan, currently live in
Berlin, New Jersey. Jackie was exposed to asbestos through the contaminated
work clothing of her father, who worked as a pipefitter at the Philadelphia
The Diagnostic Testing
In mid-April of this year, Jackie awoke in the night with severe shortness
of breath and back spasms. After a sleepless night, her husband took her
to see her personal physician, Dr. Herbert Fichman, in Turnersville, New
Jersey. Dr. Fichman had chest films and CT scans taken the same day, which
revealed the presence of tumors in Jackie's chest. Dr. Fichman referred
Jackie to a pulmonologist, Dr. Carlos Obregon. Dr. Obregon conducted a
pulmonary function test and performed a needle biopsy through the left
back at Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Washington Township, New Jersey.
There was not enough tissue for diagnosis. Dr. Obregon referred Jackie
to a thoracic surgeon, Dr. Joseph Shraeger, at the University of Pennsylvania
Jackie met with Dr. Shraeger on April 24, 2000. On April 27, Dr. Shraeger
performed a thoracotomy, video-assisted thoracoscopy (VAT) and tissue
biopsy. After surgery, Dr. Shraeger advised that he had found some kind
of cancer, and that they would have to wait for the pathology laboratory
to finish its work for the precise diagnosis. The Georges were advised
of the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma approximately one week later.
Tumor Invades Heart Lining
There is tumor activity around both lungs. There is a golf ball-sized tumor
around the heart, which rendered her cancer inoperable. Jackie is under
the care of Dr. Algazy, Dr. Freidberg, and Dr. Hahn at the University
of Pennsylvania. Dr. Algazy has administered Jackie's chemotherapy
with Cisplatin and Gemczar, which Jackie began on May 22, 2000 and continued
for the next six weeks. Jackie has experienced severe nausea and vomiting
as a result of her chemotherapy. The next step in the process will be
an evaluation for intraoperative photodynamic light therapy, which will
be administered after surgical reduction of her tumor. Drs. Freidberg
and Hahn will helm this part of Jackie's treatment.
On July 13, Dan wrote:
About 2 weeks ago a chest x-ray showed that there is an additional tumor
in Jackie's lung - for a total of 6. However, there was some confusion
that the tumor may (or may not) have been there before the chemotherapy
started. There is no way of knowing at this point - I guess that there
should have been an x-ray taken on day 1 of the chemotherapy as a base line.
Today will be a six hour chemotherapy treatment for Jackie. This will be
the end of cycle #3. In my opinion, Jackie is not improving as her shortness
of breath seems to be getting worse. This is not a dramatic change and
could just be my imagination.
Last week we spent 4 hours with 3 surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania
hospital. This was regarding the photo dynamic surgery. The doctors require
that a series of tests be completed before agreeing that Jackie can have
the surgery. The tests will take place over the next week or so. They
said that the operation can last from 6 to 12 hours; they said that it
is "brutal surgery"; 10 day minimum hospital stay. The actual
measures (lung removal, etc.) that they would take during the operation
would be determined during the operation depending upon what they find.
The doctors say that people who have had the surgery have a much better
chance than those who do not. Evidently, 30 people have had it; 2 did
not live through the surgery. They said that they will discuss more of the
Jackie and Dan George
details at a later date. I suspect that the surgery will take place mid August.
The chemotherapy of today will be the last for some period of time as there
must be a 30 day period after the treatment and before the surgery. I
have no idea how soon after the surgery the chemotherapy would resume.
In general, I think that Jackie's outlook and attitude are extremely
positive. She is now calling this entire ordeal a "Project".
She has had very few down days.
Over the years, Jackie had experienced relatively minor ailments, but she
is very healthy appearing, even now. She and her husband put up a brave
face, but they are devastated at the long odds she faces in her fight
Zest for Life
The Georges are the same age, and beginning with the third grade, attended
the same Catholic elementary and high schools in the Philadelphia area.
They were married on June 1, 1968.
The Georges are family-oriented people who love to throw parties. The Georges
have two sons, Daniel George, Jr., age 28, and Lt. Jeffrey George, age
26. The Georges are very close to their sons. They molded their careers
around them. They are very proud of the fact that they attended all of
their sporting events, except when one got into hockey and karate, which
was too violent for Jackie to watch. Their son Danny works as an assistant
manager at a local BMW dealership. Jeffrey is a medical services officer
and a medivac pilot in the U.S. Army. Jeffrey's son John Daniel was
born on May 26, 2000 -- and the Georges now wonder if John Daniel will
remember his Grandma Jackie.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Georges as they struggle with this
POSTED JULY 27, 2000
An Update from Dan -- 12/12/00
I wanted to let you know
On 4 Dec Jackie and I visited Dr Algazy at Penn. At this time he told us
the results of the cat scan that Jackie had the prior week. Dr Algazy
told us that the chemo was not shrinking the tumors, and therefore they
would stop that particular type of chemo. Naturally, this was particularly
They have now begun trying a fourth type of chemo treatment. This is an
experimental (ZD9331) chemo being used along with cisplatin. They gave
Jackie her first treatment yesterday. The second treatment is next Monday.
I will try to keep you advised.
Daniel C. George
An Update -- 8/8/01
Jackie is currently on a two-week hiatus from chemotherapy while she recovers
from her latest bout with pneumonia. She has been having CAT scans every
other month and is scheduled to learn the results of her latest CAT scan
later on this week before resuming her chemotherapy of navelbine sometime
When we spoke with her recently, she indicated that her pain had escalated
to such a degree that her doctors prescribed the pain reliever OxyContin,
and when that did not work, she was given a prescription for double the
initial dosage. It does give some temporary relief of the pain, although
it does leave her quite tired.
She is continuing with arts and crafts, right now occupied by a cross-stitch
project she has undertaken - a ring-bearer's pallet for her son's
wedding next May, which she is looking forward to attending.
Jackie George passed away on December 27, 2001