Judith and James Koranda
Judith and James Koranda were high school sweethearts at Kelley High School
in Illinois. While James was scoring touchdowns and sinking jumpers, Judith
was on the sidelines leading the cheers
. James was all-state in baseball and football. After graduating from high
school, James was offered a professional baseball contract. He struggled
with the decision, whether to go to college or play baseball. He chose
baseball where he persevered for the next thirteen years. He played in
the Brooklyn Dodger, New York Yankee and Chicago White Sox organizations
as a first baseman, outfielder and catcher.
In June of 1953, James and Judith were married. Ironically, six months
later, another ballplayer and beauty were also married, Joe DiMaggio and
Marilyn Monroe, but the Koranda marriage was different: it was filled
with laughter, love and family. Before marrying James, Judith was a runway
model, and posed for several major publications, including
The Life of a AAA Baseball Journeyman
It wasn't long before the children started to arrive. Over the next
eight years, they begat and blissfully raised 5 healthy kids. As James'
career took him on the road, he would travel ahead of his family, get
settled and his brood would arrive later. Judith would pack the five children
in the largest family station wagon available on the market, and drive
to the usually small town where James was playing. The family was well
disciplined, like any successful team.
In a fourteen year career, James lived in fifteen (15) different cities
and two countries. His family was always with him. A multiple triple-crown
winner in AAA, James never made it to "The Show." He was statistically
always at the top of the list in batting, home runs, on-base percentage
and RBIs. Some of the legends he shared the dugout with included Hall
of Famers Sparky Anderson and Boog Powell. His manager in Omaha was the
legendary skipper, Danny Ozark.
After retiring from baseball in 1965, the Korandas made their home in Orland
Park, Illinois. James was a hero to the local teens, as they were constantly
knocking on his door asking advice on how to improve their hitting, fielding
and throwing. In 1981, they moved from the frigid Midwest to sunny Florida.
In 1990, James passed away nine months after a second abdominal surgery.
Several years later, Judith moved to Texas to be near her daughter and
several of her eleven grandchildren.
Symptoms begin in 2000
Early in the spring of 2000, Judith began to feel unusually run down and
short of breath. She also was experiencing a sharp pain in her left side.
She traveled to the Clear Sky Imaging Center in Denton, Texas and underwent
a chest film and CT scan. The scan showed a prominent, lobulated, pleural-based
mass lesion in the lateral and posterior lower lung. The doctors examined
the films and also noted bilateral pleural effusions. His diagnosis was
malignant mesothelioma versus pulmonary neoplastic process. The doctors
recommended that a biopsy be taken for further evaluation.
Judith Koranda and her Big League husband, James Koranda
Complications during Bronchoscopy
On March 25, Judith underwent a bronchoscopy of the left lower lobe at
the Denton Community Hospital. During the procedure, Judith went into
respiratory distress and had to be intubated. She suffered an acute pulmonary
hemorrhage during the procedure. She was immediately transferred to intensive
care and transfused with four units of blood. She was sedated and placed
on mechanical ventilation during the night. The next day she had an occlusion
of her endotracheal tube with a blood clot and nearly went into cardiac
arrest. She was "bagged", with a removal of two large blood
clots. She underwent a second bronchoscopy which revealed that she had
no further blood clots in the tracheobronchial tree. Judith now recalls
with a smile, "The doctors told me that I was near death, but I didnt'
see any bright lights."
A chest film was then taken which revealed a small right sided pneumothorax.
Judith remained in intensive care until March 29.
Pathology Confirms Mesothelioma
On March 27, Judith underwent a CT-guided fine needle biopsy. Using immunohistochemical
staining techniques, the pathologist diagnosed malignant mesothelioma.
She was discharged on March 30, 2000.
Consultation with Dr. Valerie Rusch of New York
On April 4, Judith met with her oncologist at the Texas Oncology, P.A.
offices in Denton, Texas. They discussed with Judith her options regarding
treatments, including surgical resection. Her oncologist consulted with
Dr. Valerie Rusch at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New
York. Dr. Rusch recommended use of a combination of Gemzar and Cisplatin
preoperatively, followed by extra-pleural pneumonectomy and, finally,
post- operative hemithoracic radiation therapy. Because of the complications
she had with her bronchoscopy, Judith was hesitant with regards to surgery.
Consultation with Dr. Vogelzang of Chicago
When Dr. Rusch offered to perform the surgery, Judith declined. Her family
then went on the Internet and discovered Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang. Unfortunately,
after reviewing Judith's medical records, Dr. Vogelzang and his associate
Dr. Kindler did not feel Judith was a viable candidate for their protocol.
Judith Koranda (c), her daughter Carolyn (l) and two of her
Declines Surgery, Chooses Gemzar/Cisplatin
Judith decided to pursue chemotherapy treatments without surgical resection.
She also decided she wanted to be treated close to her home. On May 8,
she began her treatments consisting of Gemzar and Cisplatin. She understood
some of the risks associated with Cisplatin, including permanent nerve,
hearing and kidney damage. Her cycles were every 28 days. She underwent
two full cycles of Gemzar and Cisplatin. A CAT scan taken after the two
cycles showed no improvement in the tumor and the chemotherapy was discontinued.
She did lose some hearing in her right ear, which she jokes is "an
Judith's family returned to the Internet to research alternative therapies.
She found that because of her previous chemotherapy, she was not eligible
for some studies. She reiterated her desire to be treated close to home.
Judith is now undergoing radiation treatments that are strictly palliative.
She goes in for treatments at least once a week. She is in pain if she
does not take her medicine, which includes OxyContin and Ibuprofen. She
continues to experience severe shortness of breath and has an oxygen machine
she uses when she sleeps.
Judith Koranda is a remarkable woman. She and her husband raised five successful
and responsible children. The Korandas are a close family who have weathered
storms before. They are united as a team to control the tumor as best
they can. We've got our rally caps on, but we wish we could do more.
*** POSTED JANUARY 26, 2001 ***
Mrs. Judith Koranda passed away on February 10, 2001