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FRED UDELL: Alive

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Like many other Californians, Frederick Udell enjoys being outside. He loves to dig and plant in his garden. Fred loves to bowl. He dreamed of becoming a professional bowler and touring with the circuit. Fred Udell always received a clean bill of health from his doctors. He had retired from three decades of building hospitals, skyscrapers and schools as a rough an ready iron worker. He ate healthy, exercised regularly and always kept a positive frame of mind. It was not until he began experiencing shortness of breath accompanied by a chronic, wheezing cough that he ever worried about his health. He sought the help of Dr. Marlowe Ross. A chest x-ray revealed a right pleural effusion but no apparent tumor. A thoracentesis, bronchoscopy and an open lung biopsy soon followed. On February 20, 1996, after Fred's biopsy, Dr. Douglas Zusman told him he had mesothelioma.

The options were few if any. Either you take the toxic chemotherapy or die a slow, agonizing death. Fred and his wife Elizabeth were not ready to take death nor defeat lying down. Fred is only 63. As a father and a grandfather, the thought of losing his wife and family was NOT an option. He has six grandchildren who he sees on a daily basis. Fred's favorite time is spring when the annual Easter egg hunt takes place on the Udell lawn. He had to fight. He opted for the treatment. Even though his doctor told him he had less than a 5% chance of remission, Fred Udell would not give up. Dr. Louis Vandermolen, Fred's oncologist, recommended interchanging four regimens of chemotherapy every three weeks (cytoxan, cisplatinum and adriamycin).

At first, the chemotherapy was not what Fred had expected. He did not get nauseous the first time. However, as the chemotherapy sessions went by, Fred lost some weight and his hair. The toxins in the chemotherapy made him ill, weak and fatigued. But he never lost hope. In August 1996, Fred completed his sixth round of chemotherapy. The chemo worked! His CT scan showed that the tumor had receded. At about this time, however, he began to experience a throbbing, skull crushing headache. At first, he did his best to cope. But after a month of agonizing pain, Fred finally sought help. An MRI revealed a bilateral acute mastoiditis (swelling of the brain). Doctors placed him on antibiotics, and the problem has subsided.

A few months after receiving the good news, Mr. Udell went back for another CT. This time, the news wasn't so good. The tumor -- the evil black serpent -- had reared its ugly head again. Fred would have to undergo another intense round of chemotherapy. He refused to throw in the towel. Fred rested until after the holidays. His three daughters, two son-in-laws and six grandchildren came over for Christmas dinner. Together they unwrapped presents and sang Christmas carols. The grandchildren ripped open presents with great anticipation and wonder. Fred sat back and took in the splendor that is his family. After the holidays, it was back to business. He has continued with chemotherapy despite the forecast of the doctors that the chances of a cure were less than 5%. He now goes in once a week for three months. Fred and Elizabeth hope that their wishes of freedom from torment will come true.

Fred and Elizabeth Udell hang on. When asked what keeps him going, Fred replies "faith, hope and humor are all I need." Fred wants the world to know about the pain and suffering mesotheliotics go through. Fred Udell wants to expose the treachery and deceit of the people that poisoned him. He wants to take a stand. This energy fuels his faith. It keeps the fire burning. It makes it possible for Frederick Udell to get out of bed every morning. Keeping the faith helps keep Fred Udell ALIVE!

We are sorry to report that after a long battle with malignant mesothelioma, Mr. Udell passed away on July 15, 1997.