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Preacher Put Faith In God, Family, and Friends

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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 **