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Chiropractor Just Wants To Get Back To Fishing

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Marvin and Karin Anderson live in Gig Harbor, Washington where they enjoy the peaceful outdoors. Marvin's an avid trout fisherman, and he likes nothing better than to toss a line into a nearby stream during a slow rain. He says it's "the most relaxing time of his day."

Like many of his hearty northwestern neighbors, Marvin is refreshingly candid about himself and it only takes a few minutes to feel like you've known him your entire life. As he puts it, "I'm not an artificial man. I don't color my hair. I have a few busted teeth up front, and I don't wear glasses, but still try to see." Marvin lives by putting faith and family first. He has been married to Karin for over 30 years, and the two are deeply devoted to each other.

In early 2006, Marvin decided to get into better shape, so he went on the "Cardiac Diet," trying to lower his cholesterol. His weight began to drop during that spring and summer which at first he chalked up to his new diet. Soon, he began experiencing shortness of breath, fatigue, and a dry cough. When the shortness of breath became too much to ignore, especially when simply walking his dog or collecting the mail from his mailbox, Marvin knew something was wrong.

A Grim Prognosis

On July 13, 2006, he met with his primary care physician at the Gig Harbor MultiCare Clinic who decided to order several chest films. When the films revealed a large pleural effusion on the left side of his chest, Marvin's physician sent him to nearby Allenmore Hospital MultiCare branch in Tacoma to undergo an ultrasound-guided thoracentesis to remove the fluid. Over three liters of blood-tinged serous fluid was removed and sent out for testing. However, the cytology results from the tests were inconsistent and showed that Marvin had both adenocarcinoma and mesothelioma. Also as a precautionary measure, doctors inserted a chest tube which remained in place for five more days to prevent future fluid buildup.

Marvin Anderson with a dog

After the thoracentesis, on July 14, Marvin returned to Allenmore Hospital for a follow-up consultation. Concerned, Marivin's primary care physician wanted to run more tests. New chest x-rays revealed two small nodules in the right lung, one in the right middle lobe and another along the minor fissure on the right side. Marvin's right lung was also hyper-expanded. Marvin quickly learned that there were problems with both lungs and sadly, that the pleural effusion in the left lung had not improved.

Marvin's doctors needed more conclusive tests in order to better treat him, so later in July 2006, he underwent a left-sided tissue biopsy at the Tacoma General Hospital with his surgeon, Dr. Allen Graeve. Pathologist Dr. George Hodges at Laboratories Northwest examined the biopsy and returned a diagnosis of epithelial mesothelioma.

Dr. Graeve informed the Andersons that Marvin was suffering from mesothelioma. He ruled out surgery as a treatment option and discouraged him from seeking chemotherapy, feeling that Marvin was not strong enough to withstand the chemicals. He told Marvin he had three months to live and that "nothing could be done."

A Second Opinion and IMRT

But, Marvin wasn't going to accept this. He sought a second opinion. On October 24, 2006 Marvin met with Dr. Eric Vallieres at the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle. Dr. Vallieres is a renowned thoracic surgeon with expertise in treating mesothelioma patients. Dr. Vallieres confirmed that Marvin was suffering from pleural mesothelioma. He agreed with Dr. Graeve's analysis that Marvin was too weak to handle chemotherapy and was not a candidate for surgical intervention. However, Dr. Vallieres did offer a treatment. He recommended Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) treatments, although IMRT is not without serious risks.

Marvin is considering IMRT but has not yet made up his mind. While he understands that his cancer is advanced at Stage IV, he continues to "try to enjoy life and not let the bastards grind me down." He has never shied away from hard work or cranky patients, and he approaches his treatment with the same attitude.

Getting Back to Fishing

Karin continues to dote on Marvin, but they are both concerned about his health. Marvin is upset about his prognosis, saying, "I took care of myself, never hurt nobody and tried to leave the world a little better than how I found it. I always thought I'd live to be 95." In the meantime, Marvin and Karin continue to enjoy their retirement years together. He looks forward to the upcoming salmon run when he can get back to doing what he loves.

Marvin says, "I have trouble accepting there's no cure for mesothelioma, but I guess I need to accept what two doctors have told me. We're creatures of knowledge. The unknown can be a terrible thing." He is still considering his options and "keeps a stiff upper lip" for himself and his family

*** POSTED FEBRUARY 18, 2007 ***