Preacher Put Faith In God, Family, and Friends
In December of 1997, while working in Chicago, Illinois, Charles Cox was
lifting a heavy box and felt something "snap" in his right rib
cage. When he sought medical attention, doctors took a chest film which
showed a small pocket of blood in his thoracic area. His doctors prescribed
pain medication and diagnosed a deep bruise or hematoma (a swelling or
mass of blood). Charles was 55 years old and "just getting started."
A few months later, Charles had an accident at work which resulted in a
contusion on his ribs. The pain was excruciating. He returned to Lake
Park, Georgia where he saw his family doctor. A CT scan was taken at the
South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta, Georgia. The results showed
a lesion on his right lung. The lesion was small (approximately 2 x 2
cm). The lymph nodes were thought to be free of invasion. The doctors
advised Charles that they thought that he had an internal bruise, but
they could not rule out something more serious. They asked him to return
in six (6) weeks for another chest film.
Charles returned six weeks later. He was experiencing terrible pain, especially
at night when he was trying to sleep. Another CT scan was taken. The doctors
injected the area with superficial pain killers. The doctors again diagnosed
an internal bruise. Mr. Cox was sent home and again advised to return
in six weeks. In the interim, Charles was in pain but did not want to
resort to popping pain pills on the hour. So he found an acupuncturist.
In his words: "The acupuncture helped, but only for a day or two.
After that, the pain would come back."
On July 9, 1998, Charles underwent a fine needle biopsy at the South Georgia
Medical Center. The doctors suspected pleural mesothelioma.
It was clear to Charles that the doctors in Valadosta were not on the cutting
edge of cancer research or science. Charles needed experts. He didn't
need more grim looking doctors in white coats with long faces telling
him to go take a cruise and not think about it. He needed help, starting
with a second opinion on the diagnosis. So Charles and his wife traveled
to Tallahassee, Florida for a consultation with a new team of doctors.
They met with the doctors at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. The doctors
recommended an open lung biopsy. On July 30, 1998, Charles underwent a
right bronchoscopy and a right thoracotomy with biopsy. The pathologists
diagnosed diffuse malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Charles and Dorothy, who is a registered nurse, then called this office
looking for information. Charles' boss had given him a printout of
our website. We advised them to contact Dr. Lary A. Robinson at the H.
Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa, Florida.
Dr. Robinson is an experienced surgical oncologist who has managed the
treatment of many mesothelioma patients. After examining Mr. Cox's
medical records, Dr. Robinson could not recommend surgery as an option
at that time. He determined that Charles' mesothelioma was in Stage III.
At the recommendation of Dr. Linda Garland, Charles decided to pursue radiation
therapy to control the pain. The objective was to shrink and consolidate
the tumors so that other treatment modalities could be attempted. The
goal of any oncology program is to prolong life, with the idea being that
as long as there is life, there is hope for a cure. At teaching hospitals
throughout the country, there are a handful of scientists who are looking
for biological and immunological therapies that might provide the answer
if the tumor is diagnosed at an early enough stage.
Unfortunately, time ran out for Mr. Cox. On November 9, Charles was admitted
to the hospital in Valdosta, Georgia. He had developed pneumonia. On November
16, Charles Cox passed away.
Charles firmly believed in his heart that the radiation treatments would
eventually help him rally. Charles was a former preacher. He had tremendous
faith. He tried to maintain a positive attitude throughout his ordeal.
He was fortunate to have a loving wife and a strong network of caring
friends. Charles did everything he could to live a normal life. He tried
to maintain his regular schedule, although he could no longer work. He
tried to walk every day. He dedicated himself to becoming an "expert"
on mesothelioma and spent much of his time reading medical articles. The
medical articles sometimes got to be rough reading with all the grim statistics
and talk of "morbidity" and "nihilism." So he balanced
out his day by reading The Bible and other religious tracts. Charles coped
with his disease by contemplating the hope embodied in one of his favorite
Bible scriptures: I can do all things through Christ who strengthenth
me. Phil 3:13
Charles maintained his strength and perpetuated his mental outlook by focusing
on his ability to "work for the Lord". Charles had been on several
mission trips with his church. Charles planned on going to Costa Rica
on a mission trip in January of 1999.
Mr. Charles Cox served in the U.S. Navy, along with his three brothers.
He was exposed to asbestos in shipyards in Oakland, San Francisco and
Long Beach. After his discharge from the Navy in 1964, he worked in construction.
He belonged to the boilermakers local and the millwrights local.
POSTED DECEMBER 17, 1998