Doug Marr aboard the USS Wasp
When asked about hobbies, Douglas Marr will tell you he never had time
for any of those. He enlisted in the Navy in 1961 -- to do the "buddy
thing" with his friend, he recalls. "Except I went to Boston.
He went to California, " he laughs. After his time in the Navy, he
returned to Glasgow and worked as a mechanic on farm equipment, until
the early 1980s. It was then that he went into selling the equipment he'd
worked on for so long. He states, "Well, you've got to know what
you're selling, if you're going to do a good job." Working
long and hard hours, Doug and his brother, Ronnie, made a living selling
equipment to farmers in the Glasgow area.
Doug's family life was equally full -- full of joy. Seven years ago,
Doug's granddaughter, Candace, now eight, came to live with Doug and
his wife, Phyllis, when she was just a year old. Doug says that he has
spent his spare time taking care of her the way a grandfather should;
he was looking forward to retirement and spending more time with Candace,
his grandson Caleb, and the rest of his family.
Doug and his granddaughter, Candace
Doug's troubles began in 1999 when he first began to experience shortness
of breath and pleural effusions. Doug met with his physician in Glasgow,
who after reviewing his chest films, performed an initial thoracentesis.
The effusions returned approximately one year later, when he underwent
a second thoracentesis. He underwent a third thoracentesis about six months
later, and thereafter one about every two weeks. Although he is not sure
of the number, Doug has undergone at least five thoracenteses since 1999.
His primary physician referred Doug to a thoracic surgeon in Bowling Green,
Kentucky, for an exploratory biopsy. Doug was never advised that the pleural
effusions were pre-cancerous or related to asbestos.
On March 28, 2002, the thoracic surgeon performed a right-sided thoracotomy
with thoracoscopy, pleural biopsy and talc pleurodesis at Greenview Regional
Hospital in Bowling Green. Doug learned that multiple studding of the
tumor pervasively covered the right lung. He remained hospitalized with
a drainage tube inserted in his side until March 30.
Doug Marr's right lung, post talc pleurodesis
March 28, 2002
The report by the pathologists associated with Greenview Regional Hospital
states that the biopsied tissue was "diffuse malignant mesothelioma,
epithelial type, moderately differentiated." Doug was advised by
telephone of the final diagnosis on April 4 and was referred to a Bowling
Green oncologist with whom he had a consultation on April 9. Shortly after
his diagnosis, Doug fortuitously learned of another mesothelioma patient
Rodney Steenbergen, who gave Doug the benefit of his experience battling mesothelioma. Doug
began the dizzying task of sorting out his treatment options, and decided
that a good first step would be
Dr. Harvey Pass of the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit. Dr. Pass consented to consult
with Doug regarding more aggressive treatment options, including surgical
removal of the pleura (pleurectomy) or of the pleura, lung, and other
tissues (extra-pleural pneumonectomy), and adjuvant chemotherapy or radiation
therapy. Before considering Doug for surgery, however, Dr. Pass scheduled
Doug to undergo a battery of tests to determine his eligibility for the
surgery. Doug has been impressed with the breadth of Dr. Pass' knowledge,
as well as his sincere interest in finding a cure.
Doug had a CT scan on April 16, and he is scheduled to undergo a pulmonary
function test and another performance test with a cardiologist. Since
he fell ill, he has lost 20 pounds.
Caleb, Candace and the Marr Family
A WISE MAN
Doug and Phyllis are taking the news of his diagnosis as best they can,
but he concedes that he has his down days. He has to sleep sitting up
to avoid suffocating, and many days find him unable to get out of bed.
It's a far cry from the days when he'd just returned from the
Navy and he and Phyllis first met at a drive-in restaurant in Glasgow.
They were married within a year on July 1, 1966. Phyllis continues to
work as a cashier at a grocery store in Glasgow, while Doug worries that
they might not be able to pay their bills as he can no longer work. His
mood is buoyed by the numerous phone calls of support he receives from
everyone -- from family, from friends, from former customers and from
Doug will learn the results of his physical tests in the upcoming weeks
and whether he can pursue the most aggressive treatments available and
his best shot at life. Until then, it's a waiting game. Thinking about
a life without mesothelioma, Doug would simply return to what he was doing
before. He'd go back to work, provide for his family and take Candace
out to the movies or for some ice cream. He just wants to do the things
a family man and a devoted grandfather would do.
Our thoughts are with this Navy veteran and family man. We will keep you posted.
*** POSTED APRIL 29, 2002 ***
An Update -- 6/20/02
Doug visited his oncologist on June 12.
After deciding against surgery, Doug met with his oncologist on June 12
who discussed Alimta. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
is evaluating results of Phase III trials of Alimta (also known as
pemetrexed). The drug is available to mesothelioma patients on a limited, compassionate
basis. Doug is investigating what the compassionate care program entails.
Doug's days "aren't so good anymore." He has pain in
his side and his back, he coughs, he is clearly short of breath, and he
states that he has a pain in his chest that feels like heartburn, but
He is taking Oxycodone once or twice a day. He sleeps in a recliner at
night, and on a good night can manage only four hours of sleep because
of the pain and the difficulty breathing. He wants to be able to sleep
a full nine hours again. He wants to return to work. He wants to speak
in complete sentences without gasping for air halfway through each. He
wants to be healthy enough so that his family won't have to worry
about him daily. He wants to live life as he was meant to -- but no longer
can. Our thoughts are with this modest and gracious man.
Mr. Marr passed away on February 24, 2003