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"Life Just Beginning"


After returning from a family vacation in Las Vegas in June of this year, John Kroemer began to experience severe night sweats. He was becoming increasingly lethargic and losing weight. He was having deep sharp pains in his lower back and right side. In early July, he finally sought medical attention. He was sure it was nothing serious. John was 32 years old. He was healthy. He and his wife had plans.

John went to see his local physician. His doctor's first impression was pneumonia and pleural effusion. His doctor ordered a pleural thoracentesis to drain off the fluid. Unfortunately, they were not able to suction off much fluid. During the procedure, John became diaphoretic (sweating profusely) and the procedure was halted. The pathologists looked at the fluid and found no malignancy.

A week later, his surgeon in Indianpolis, Indiana operated on John. They removed the tumor and drained his lung. Two chest tubes were then inserted. On July 19, John's blood pressure dropped radically and he had severe anemia. His doctors were concerned about internal bleeding. John was continuing to lose weight.

The diagnosis was uncertain. The doctors sent the tissue to the best doctors in the area at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, a hospital with a reputation for solving tough cases. The doctors at Mayo acknowledged that "this is a most challenging case, especially given the age of the patient." The pathology was reviewed by three pathologists: Dr. Meyers, Colby and Uuni, the latter two of whom are members of the United States - Canadian Mesothelioma Panel. The team of experts at Mayo concluded that John had malignant mesothelioma.

John Kroemer was discharged from the St. Vincent Hospital on August 1, 1997. He was originally admitted on July 10th with what he thought was a chest cold and fever. His discharge summary read - Malignant Mesothelioma, probable secondary pneumonia, fevers, anemia of chronic disease, malnutrition, and mild cholestasis.

John spoke to the doctors at the Mayo Clinic about treatment options. They recommended surgery and chemotherapy. John, who was devestated, refused. Two weeks in a hospital with a chest tube was enough. On August 15th, John was re-admitted to St. Vincent's due to increasing pain, fever and shortness of breath. His disease was rapidly progressing and a CT scan on August 16 showed a massive pleural based tumor involving nearly the entire pleural surface of the right hemithorax, encasing much of the lung and the liver.

In only a few weeks, John's tumor advanced to the point that his doctors no longer advised surgery or chemotherapy. His doctors recommended hospice care. John and his wife wanted to get away from the doctors and the pain and live out their life on the beach. He thought he had six months to live.

John did not have six months. He died of malignant mesothelioma on August 26, 1997 at the St. Vincent Hospice Care center, only six weeks after his diagnosis. He was thirty-two (32) years old.

Asbestos took John's life. He was exposed to asbestos at the Allison Gas Turbine plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, which operated as a division of the General Motors Corporation and was late renamed as the Allison Engine Company.