Glenn and Darleen Keeran
During the fall of 2005, Glenn Keeran developed a persistent cough. Because
Glenn spent so much time enjoying the outdoors, cutting wood, playing
golf, and staying involved with the Kiwanis, his primary doctor thought
he might have allergies and treated him accordingly. So, Glenn, at the
age of 71, went about his normal, healthy routine in the beautiful community
of Sisters, Oregon. But when his cough grew worse and he began experiencing
shortness of breath, Glenn returned to his doctor.
Chest films revealed an accumulated mass in his lungs, which turned out
to be multiple pleural plaques. Some of the spots had calcified while
others had not. Glenn's doctor advised that these scars are often
associated with asbestos exposure. Towards the end of November, Glenn
underwent an ultrasound-guided thoracentesis to remove the accumulated
fluid on his right side. The results showed atypical mesothelial cells.
The local doctors suspected a serious problem, but they had not yet made
a firm diagnosis. Glenn was referred to Dr. Edward Boyle at the Bend Medical
Center in Bend, Oregon. In December of 2005, Dr. Boyle performed abiopsy
of the mass taken, followed by a talc pleurodesis to help prevent further
fluid accumulation. The removed tissue was evaluated by a local pathologist,
who in December rendered the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma. When
Dr. Boyle discussed the diagnosis with the Keerans, they were very comforted
by his honesty, compassion and optimism.
MANAGING MESOTHELIOMA THROUGH CHEMOTHERAPY
Before proceeding with treatment, the Keerans discussed Glenn's diagnosis
and treatment options with oncologist Dr. Stephen Kornfeld at St. Charles
Hospital in Bend, Oregon. Dr. Kornfeld was also treating Glenn's wife,
Darleen, for her breast cancer. Additional tests suggested that the tumor
had spread to his lymph nodes, and this placed Glenn in stage III. Dr.
Kornfeld felt that because the cancer was already advanced, Glenn should
not undergo the surgical procedure to remove the bulk of the tumor from
the pleural linings in his chest cavity. Instead, he suggested targeting
the cancer using chemotherapy.
Glenn on the links
Glenn consented. He began a systematic chemotherapy treatment with Cisplatin
and Alimta. His first phase began February 2, 2006 with follow-up treatments
every three weeks until April. Before the first chemo, he took a B-12
vitamin and folic acid. During the weeks following his first treatment,
Glenn experienced little discomfort. He did have some fatigue, minor abdominal
distress, and mostly reported having an acidic stomach.
By his next follow-up in early March, he had experienced nausea and had
developed a rash, which was treated with Benadryl, Hydrochlorozide cream,
and a steroid. The third chemotherapy treatment took place towards the
end of March along with another dose of vitamin B-12. Glenn noted some
fatigue between treatment cycles.
Glenn was ready for his chemotherapy to end. By the time of his final treatment
in early April, he had felt some pain in his left leg. However, since
it was not swollen, the doctors were not alarmed, and the pain eventually
subsided. Eventually, the pain was identified as the result of a blood
clot and was treated with a blood thinner.
Even though he would not admit it, Glenn was clearly in the fight of his
life. To compound the stress, Glenn was also the chief caregiver for his
wife, Darleen. For almost a decade, Darleen had bravely endured the pain
of lung cancer, breast cancer and bone caner. In fact, just before Glenn's
diagnosis, Darleen's cancer spread to her bones, which exacerbated
her overall pain.
The Keerans had enjoyed living at the base of the Cascade Mountains in
Oregon. They had made big plans to spend the rest of their days exploring
the Cascade Mountains and lakes and living the good life. But because
bothwere now stricken with cancer, they decided to return to San Diego where
they had once lived. Their two daughters still lived in the area, and
they could both easily get treatment for their respective cancers.
A HEALTHY DOSE OF OPTIMISM
Glenn began seeing oncologist Dr. David Bodkin at Sharp Memorial Hospital
in San Diego, California. He had some chest pain, but a scan in July showed
little development and only some nodules in the lower part of his lung
had formed. In August, Dr. Bodkin suggested that Glenn have a bone scan
to find out what was possibly causing the pain. In September, pending
the results of these tests, Glenn may continue with low dose chemotherapy
Glenn, Darleen and their grandchildren
Glenn has not had problems sleeping (a possible side effect for mesothelioma
patients). He has taken mild painkillers as needed. He is still able to
enjoy shopping at short stints and going to the movies. He can't go
too far though without getting short of breath. Always the optimist, Glenn
believes, "it doesn't do any good to get down, so I just stay
positive and live every day to the fullest while I have it."
Sadly, in May, shortly after Glenn's last chemotherapy treatment, his
wife, Darleen, passed away. They had been married for 50 years and always
stood beside each other. Glenn's family rallied around him, and they
all relied on each other to get through this difficult time. Glenn first
stayed with his daughter, Lorri, but has been living with his eldest daughter,
Vicki, since the summer. The time spent closer to his grandchildren has
been good. Besides, his yellow lab/husky mix has found great playmates
with Vicki's own rottweiler/lab mixed dog and his granddaughter's
miniature dachshund dog as well.
For years, Glenn has surmounted the hardships that life has placed in his
way. He has always been the pillar of his family, and this became increasingly
more evident as he supported Darleen through her painful battle with cancer.
But, he has been quiet about his own suffering, and remains stoic. He
is a gentle man, yet it is apparent that his will to persevere is great.
Glenn continues to seek out joy in life, despite the fatigue and pain
that remind him daily he is battling mesothelioma.
At his family's urging, Glenn and one of his close buddies plan to
travel back to Sisters, Oregon soon for a three week vacation. He hopes
to make it. Even though his doctors have given him a prognosis of anywhere
from a month to two years, Glenn chooses to, "live like I have years!"
*** POSTED SEPTEMBER 6, 2006 ***
An Update 9/7/06
Now that his lawsuit has been resolved, Glenn Keeran is finalizing his
vacation plans for the year. He and his daughter Vicki "are not going
to waste any time." Glenn will be driving back to Sisters, Oregon
in the coming weeks. He has also finalized plans to take 10 of his closest
family members and friends on a Hawaiian cruise for Christmas.
Glenn is still experiencing fatigue and pain in his side. He has also lost
some weight. But now that the trial is over, Glenn and the entire Keeran
family are enjoying a big sigh of relief. Vicki was there for her father
every day of the trial. She watched the jury out of the corner of her
eye and was impressed by how "attentive" they were. "They
took it seriously and were really tuned-in the entire time." It meant
a lot that a group of 12 strangers empathized with her father's plight.
Glenn and the family are extremely pleased with the outcome and with the
quality of the representation they received. Vicki states that this process
has "turned over any of her preconceived notions of lawyers-everyone
was so kind and personable." More than anything, she expressed that
this was the best scenario they could have hoped for throughout such an ordeal.
*** Mr. Glenn Keeran passed away on January 8, 2007 ***