Beverly and Ernie Kasprick - June, 2001
Until about a year ago, life was very good for 63-year-old Ernest "Ernie"
Kasprick, a self-employed contractor, and his wife Beverly. Ernie had
lots of work with his contracting company, and when he was at home evenings
and Sundays, he stayed busy, and happy.
The Kaspricks have 26 grandchildren, almost all of whom live within a 100
mile radius, and they love them all. Their home welcomes the grandkids.
Little Jacie, now seven years old, spends a lot of time with her grandparents,
who have her after kindergarten and some weekends.
CUTTING LOGS WHILE THE SUN SHINES
Their East Grand Forks, Minnesota home has five acres which Ernie and Bev
have gardened and maintained immaculately. Right across the river from
North Dakota, the winters are long and harsh, and gardening can require
fast work. Construction work and chopping firewood also helped keep Ernie
trim at five feet, eight inches and 165 pounds. He would take his tractor
out into his woods, cut a tree with a chainsaw, and then bring the wood
back to the woodstack, where he split the logs by hand, with a maul. With
a woodstove in the house, another two in the shop, and a very long winter,
Ernie could go through five cords of wood.
Ernie built all of the cabinets in his house, and in his spare time, would
build shelves and the like for the kids. On the weekends, he and Bev would
"go down to the Legion" or some other place for dinner.
NO TIME TO GET SICK
With so much going on, Ernie had neither the time nor the inclination to
get sick. So it was unusual when he began having stomach cramps and diarrhea
about a year ago. He noticed a lump in his groin area. He went to his
physician who sent him to a specialist. The specialist did a colonoscopy
but did not find anything, and sent Ernie home.
Ernie Kasprick at work
Over the past year his stomach began to swell. The lump in his groin also
increased in size. On April 6, 2001 Ernie met with surgeon and urologist
Dr. Michael Segal at the MeritCare Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota. Dr.
Segal performed a CT scan which revealed an increasing number of peritoneal
ascites as well as diffuse peritoneal carcinomatosis with studding of
his anterior abdominal wall. Dr. Segal immediately ordered an ultrasound
of the groin area which confirmed a bilobar, solid, mass lesion. Dr. Segal
recommended removing the tumor with an inguinal incision with a radical
orchiectomy. At that point, Dr. Segal suspected that Ernie had "an
On April 11, Ernie underwent an inguinal exploration and right radical
orchiectomy with removal of tumor from the peritoneal space. During the
surgery, Dr. Segal noticed the 'tongue' of the tumor extending
out from the peritoneal cavity. Dr. Segal called in the Chief Surgeon,
Dr. Stover, who assisted in the removal of the tumor. The tissue specimens
were examined by the pathology department at the MeritCare Center which
diagnosed malignant mesothelioma of the peritoneum. Dr. Wold of the Mayo
Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota confirmed the diagnosis.
Ernie consulted with an oncologist, Dr. Mohammed Ranginwalal, who wanted
to treat him using chemotherapy. The Kaspricks were not convinced that
Dr. Ranginwalal had the answers, so they began researching their treatment options.
NO EXPERTISE AT THE MAYO CLINIC
They contacted the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and were told that
there was no physician on staff that treated peritoneal mesothelioma.
They then contacted Dr. Harvey Pass, who similarly advised that there
was no physician at Karmanos Cancer Institue that treated peritoneal mesothelioma.
Ernie Kasprick at M.D. Anderson
Houston, Texas - May, 2001
The Kaspricks then turned to this website, which introduced them to Dr.
Claire Verschraegen, a peritoneal mesothelioma oncology specialist at
the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Hosptial in Houston, Texas. The
Kaspricks telephoned Dr. Verschraegen and made an appointment to meet
her on May 8, 2001.
As the appointment approached, Ernie coped with increasing abdominal girth
and discomfort. He was unable to eat much because of the pain. A small
meal could instigate a fair amount of regurgitation. He had lost about
fifteen pounds of muscle weight since November, 2000.
DR. VERSCHRAEGEN ANSWERS THE QUESTIONS
On May 8, the Kaspricks met with Dr. Verschraegen and members of her staff
to discuss three vital questions: a second opinion; further evaluation;
and treatment options.
M.D. Anderson's pathology department confirmed the diagnosis of malignant
mesothelioma of the peritoneum, epithelial type. Dr. Verschraegen quickly
set to work answering Ernie's other concerns. She admitted him to
M.D. Anderson for peritoneal catheter placement and a subsequent paracentesis.
On May 9, a catheter was inserted in his abdomen, and approximately three
liters of fluid were drained. The Kaspricks were informed that not all
of the fluid would be removed.
CISPLATIN AND CPT-11
Ernie and his granddaughter
During this first paracentesis, Cisplatin was introduced intraperitoneally
over two hours followed by 60 milligrams of CPT-11. Throughout the day
and all night long, at 20 minute intervals, nurses rolled Ernie in order
to keep the fluid free-flowing. A second paracentesis was performed at
approximately midnight of the same day. This time about four and one-half
liters of fluid were removed.
On May 10, CPT-11 was administered intravenously on "Day One"
of the cycle. On Day Eight and Day Fifteen, further doses of CPT-11 were
also administered, again intravenously, but this time at the Roger Maris
Cancer Center in Fargo, North Dakota. Day Fifteen concluded one cycle.
Ernie reports that he has suffered from nausea from these treatments,
among other symptoms. While at home, Ernie must drain any fluid himself.
He was instructed by the nurses how to drain the fluid, dispose of the
bags and keep the catheter clean. He was also instructed to not drain
more than two liters per day.
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
Ernie last saw Dr. Verschraegen on June 14. So far, Dr. Verschraegen's
treatments seemed to have prevented the growth of his tumors, althought
Ernie acknowledges that mesothelioma can spread like wildfire. Ernie tries
to stay busy as much as his flagging energy will permit. He tries not
to think about the future and what will happen to all he and Beverly have
built, to his children and grandchildren.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Ernie as he shuttles between Minnesota
and Texas to fight mesothelioma.
POSTED JULY 26, 2001
An Update -- 10/1/01
Ernie has had better weeks. He had a CT scan recently, and as of Tuesday,
September 25, 2001, was hoping that the results would be good so that
he could continue with his chemotherapy. The next day, Ernie received
the dispiriting news that the tumor had grown, and he needed to cease
chemotherapy. He continues with Roxycet for pain relief. Ernie will consult
with Dr. Verschraegen regarding the next stage of his fight against mesothelioma.
An Update -- 7/18/02
Late last year, Ernie was accepted into the
SS1(dsFv)-PE38 out of Oklahoma University. After his third treatment, he developed hives
from head to toe. Before his fourth treatment, he was discontinued from
the study. Dr. Verschraegen tried another chemotherapy cocktail, but it
too produced hives. For the next two months he was treated with thalidomide,
which seemed to stabilze the tumor growth, enough to consider removing
Ernie traveled to the Mayo clinic in hopes of have the tumor debulked,
but the doctors discovered too much fluid in his abdomin. He returned
home and is presently consulting with his local oncologist.
Today, Ernie is still in plenty of pain. He also continues to tire easily
but tries to stay busy. Unfortunately, according to Ernie, "There
are days where I have to just sit back and not do anything for lack of
He continues to have fluid drained almost daily. Today, they removed 1600
ccs of fluid compared to yesterday when they removed 4000 ccs. Several
months ago he had his catheter removed, finding it was more trouble than
it was worth. He travels to his local doctors office to have the fluid
removed. Ernie states "I don't think they'll ever find a
cure for this thing, or even a way to slow it down."
Mr. Kasprick passed away on September 6, 2002
Ernie Kasprick was my best friend (grandpa) and I like that you put that
up thank you. I am the girl in the picture the very bottom one . I'm
eleven now I was eight. My grandpa was my best friend and I used to go
to his house more then I was at my house. I helped him build. I'd
hammer while he held the nail I'd hit his hand most of the time but
grandpa didn't care. He loved me so much I remember he use too put
me and grandma in the scoop of the tractor I always keep him my heart
hope you do!!! My grandpa my best friend. (12/3/2005)
Hello...I'm Jacie Folstrom...I wrote you last time..and I just wanted
to give you a quick update on how the family had been doing..I am thirteen
now and this month was his birthday and his death day..Not a good month
for our family..Me and my grandma struggle past this month slowly and
sadly...But we are doing ok. I miss my grandpa so much these days. it
hurts. and It hurts me that he won't be there for my wedding or anything..But
i will see him again someday. and that's ok...