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Outdoorsman Seeks Joy In Life

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During the fall of 2005, Glenn Keeran developed a persistent cough. Because Glenn spent so much time enjoying the outdoors, cutting wood, playing golf, and staying involved with the Kiwanis, his primary doctor thought he might have allergies and treated him accordingly. So, Glenn, at the age of 71, went about his normal, healthy routine in the beautiful community of Sisters, Oregon. But when his cough grew worse and he began experiencing shortness of breath, Glenn returned to his doctor.

Chest films revealed an accumulated mass in his lungs, which turned out to be multiple pleural plaques. Some of the spots had calcified while others had not. Glenn's doctor advised that these scars are often associated with asbestos exposure. Towards the end of November, Glenn underwent an ultrasound-guided thoracentesis to remove the accumulated fluid on his right side. The results showed atypical mesothelial cells.

The local doctors suspected a serious problem, but they had not yet made a firm diagnosis. Glenn was referred to Dr. Edward Boyle at the Bend Medical Center in Bend, Oregon. In December of 2005, Dr. Boyle performed abiopsy of the mass taken, followed by a talc pleurodesis to help prevent further fluid accumulation. The removed tissue was evaluated by a local pathologist, who in December rendered the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma. When Dr. Boyle discussed the diagnosis with the Keerans, they were very comforted by his honesty, compassion and optimism.

MANAGING MESOTHELIOMA THROUGH CHEMOTHERAPY

Before proceeding with treatment, the Keerans discussed Glenn's diagnosis and treatment options with oncologist Dr. Stephen Kornfeld at St. Charles Hospital in Bend, Oregon. Dr. Kornfeld was also treating Glenn's wife, Darleen, for her breast cancer. Additional tests suggested that the tumor had spread to his lymph nodes, and this placed Glenn in stage III. Dr. Kornfeld felt that because the cancer was already advanced, Glenn should not undergo the surgical procedure to remove the bulk of the tumor from the pleural linings in his chest cavity. Instead, he suggested targeting the cancer using chemotherapy.

Keeran golfing

Glenn on the links

Glenn consented. He began a systematic chemotherapy treatment with Cisplatin and Alimta. His first phase began February 2, 2006 with follow-up treatments every three weeks until April. Before the first chemo, he took a B-12 vitamin and folic acid. During the weeks following his first treatment, Glenn experienced little discomfort. He did have some fatigue, minor abdominal distress, and mostly reported having an acidic stomach.

By his next follow-up in early March, he had experienced nausea and had developed a rash, which was treated with Benadryl, Hydrochlorozide cream, and a steroid. The third chemotherapy treatment took place towards the end of March along with another dose of vitamin B-12. Glenn noted some fatigue between treatment cycles.

Glenn was ready for his chemotherapy to end. By the time of his final treatment in early April, he had felt some pain in his left leg. However, since it was not swollen, the doctors were not alarmed, and the pain eventually subsided. Eventually, the pain was identified as the result of a blood clot and was treated with a blood thinner.

Even though he would not admit it, Glenn was clearly in the fight of his life. To compound the stress, Glenn was also the chief caregiver for his wife, Darleen. For almost a decade, Darleen had bravely endured the pain of lung cancer, breast cancer and bone caner. In fact, just before Glenn's diagnosis, Darleen's cancer spread to her bones, which exacerbated her overall pain.

The Keerans had enjoyed living at the base of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon. They had made big plans to spend the rest of their days exploring the Cascade Mountains and lakes and living the good life. But because bothwere now stricken with cancer, they decided to return to San Diego where they had once lived. Their two daughters still lived in the area, and they could both easily get treatment for their respective cancers.

A HEALTHY DOSE OF OPTIMISM

Glenn began seeing oncologist Dr. David Bodkin at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, California. He had some chest pain, but a scan in July showed little development and only some nodules in the lower part of his lung had formed. In August, Dr. Bodkin suggested that Glenn have a bone scan to find out what was possibly causing the pain. In September, pending the results of these tests, Glenn may continue with low dose chemotherapy treatments.

Glenn, Darleen and their grandchildren

Glenn, Darleen and their grandchildren

Glenn has not had problems sleeping (a possible side effect for mesothelioma patients). He has taken mild painkillers as needed. He is still able to enjoy shopping at short stints and going to the movies. He can't go too far though without getting short of breath. Always the optimist, Glenn believes, "it doesn't do any good to get down, so I just stay positive and live every day to the fullest while I have it."

Sadly, in May, shortly after Glenn's last chemotherapy treatment, his wife, Darleen, passed away. They had been married for 50 years and always stood beside each other. Glenn's family rallied around him, and they all relied on each other to get through this difficult time. Glenn first stayed with his daughter, Lorri, but has been living with his eldest daughter, Vicki, since the summer. The time spent closer to his grandchildren has been good. Besides, his yellow lab/husky mix has found great playmates with Vicki's own rottweiler/lab mixed dog and his granddaughter's miniature dachshund dog as well.

For years, Glenn has surmounted the hardships that life has placed in his way. He has always been the pillar of his family, and this became increasingly more evident as he supported Darleen through her painful battle with cancer. But, he has been quiet about his own suffering, and remains stoic. He is a gentle man, yet it is apparent that his will to persevere is great. Glenn continues to seek out joy in life, despite the fatigue and pain that remind him daily he is battling mesothelioma.

At his family's urging, Glenn and one of his close buddies plan to travel back to Sisters, Oregon soon for a three week vacation. He hopes to make it. Even though his doctors have given him a prognosis of anywhere from a month to two years, Glenn chooses to, "live like I have years!"

*** POSTED SEPTEMBER 6, 2006 ***

An Update 9/7/06

Now that his lawsuit has been resolved, Glenn Keeran is finalizing his vacation plans for the year. He and his daughter Vicki "are not going to waste any time." Glenn will be driving back to Sisters, Oregon in the coming weeks. He has also finalized plans to take 10 of his closest family members and friends on a Hawaiian cruise for Christmas.

Glenn is still experiencing fatigue and pain in his side. He has also lost some weight. But now that the trial is over, Glenn and the entire Keeran family are enjoying a big sigh of relief. Vicki was there for her father every day of the trial. She watched the jury out of the corner of her eye and was impressed by how "attentive" they were. "They took it seriously and were really tuned-in the entire time." It meant a lot that a group of 12 strangers empathized with her father's plight.

Glenn and the family are extremely pleased with the outcome and with the quality of the representation they received. Vicki states that this process has "turned over any of her preconceived notions of lawyers-everyone was so kind and personable." More than anything, she expressed that this was the best scenario they could have hoped for throughout such an ordeal.

*** Mr. Glenn Keeran passed away on January 8, 2007 ***