Battle with Angiosarcoma
Craig was in
the middle of his second semester of college when he decided
to have fun and go to Cancun for Spring Break. Unfortunately, the trip
not fun, he was beginning to feel ill.
Shortly after he returned from Mexico he began to
have chest pains. One
night as he was walking up a flight of stairs, he passed out. A trip to
emergency room resulted in Craig being admitted for tests.
He had an emergency procedure to remove fluid from
his pericardium, the
sac surrounding his heart. The doctors were concerned about the amount
color of the fluid, so more tests were ordered. A mass was discovered
the right atrium of his heart. Craig was transferred to St. Vincent's
Hospital in Indianapolis where there is a Heart Institute and excellent
Craig was prepared for open-heart surgery and the
patiently, thinking the doctors would remove this mass and our lives
on as usual. The doctor requested to meet us in a private room and gave
the news that changed us all forever. Sarcoma. He removed what could be
removed, but he had no idea how much more was in the muscle of the
After the pathology report confirmed the
diagnosis, we immediately
consulted an oncologist. He had never treated a sarcoma and recommended
several cancer centers with sarcoma specialists. We chose MD Anderson
Center in Houston, Texas because we had researched and heard this
was the best for Craig's situation.
One week later we were on our way to Houston. Craig's
confirmed, it was cardiac angiosarcoma and it had spread to his lungs.
Chemotherapy was our only option and our doctor, Dr. Shreyaskumar Patel
ordered at least six rounds of therapy.
Craig began his treatments of Adriamycin, Ifosfomide
and Mesna by the end
of April. He had five days of treatments and three weeks later it would
startall over again. In between treatments he experienced many side effects
including nausea, low blood counts, hiccups, tiredness, mouth sores,constipation, fevers and more. Daily trips to the hospital were necessary to
monitor his blood counts. When his white counts were low he had to givehimself injections in his leg of a drug that would help the counts to
The side effect of this caused bone pain.
We were required to stay in Houston for these
treatments, mostly due to
the fact that the doctors in Houston had the experience and could
Craig with our confidence. We rented an apartment, drove an extra car
Indiana to Texas and set up a second home. Our family was divided for
months. Craig's father would stay with him for a few weeks and then come
to work and care for Matt, who was sixteen at the time. Then, Mom would
her few weeks. We alternated taking care of our sons and working.
After two treatments Craig's CT scans showed the
lungs were clear. After
the fourth round, the scans showed a major shrinkage in the tumor in his
heart. After six rounds the tumor was gone! We were amazed. Craig had
through so much suffering in those months, giving himself injections,
flushing his catheter daily, fighting nausea, loneliness, isolation,
and wondering if he had a future.
After many tests showed us he was in remission, we
moved ourselves back
to Indiana where Craig underwent one more treatment to be sure all
gone. This round seemed rougher than the others, we weren't sure exactly
Could have been the fact that we thought we through or that it was
administered by a different doctor and nurses.
Craig began trying to live his life normally at the
end of October and
moved back to Bloomington. He was not taking classes, so he got a part
job and enjoyed being with his friends. A trip to Houston in November
more tests showed nothing abnormal and as we celebrated Thanksgiving we
definitely had something to be thankful for.
But for Craig, who had seen so much illness and
death, life was not the
same. He could not be the carefree college student. He had changed. He
newfound relationship with God and looked at life through different
A cough began at Christmas time and he had suspicions
his cancer was
returning. In January he had more tests in Houston and this was
The tumor was back in his heart and there were several in his lungs too.
Patel suggested two different treatment options, but Craig was adamant
not staying in Houston. We came home to Indiana and Craig began weekly
treatments of Taxol. It seemed to be helping him, but in actuality it
bought us more time. He continued to cough and sometimes these coughs
We visited Dr. Allan Sandler at the Indiana
University Medical Center. He
is an oncologist, specializing in sarcoma. He concurred with Dr. Patel
the treatment. Both doctors suggested if Taxol did not work we could try
Ifosfomide at a very high dose.
In March Craig was still coughing up blood but wanted
to drive to Atlanta
and New Orleans during his spring break. He returned home on a Sunday
and on Monday telephoned his mother to report he was still coughing up
and that his breathing was labored and needed some oxygen. He went to
emergency room at Bloomington Hospital and the doctors were shocked, but
not say why. We knew. They had never seen chest x-rays like Craig's. His
lungs were full of tumors.
Craig returned home with his parents, had tests on
Tuesday, and saw Dr.
Sandler on Wednesday. He was sent to the hospital for a bronchoscopy and
doctor delivered the bad news to us. Craig's lungs were full and the
were bleeding. There was no possible way they could stop this. We were
he would probably live for just a few days, possible less. We came home
tried to realize just what was happening. Craig wanted to visit with
friends, the grandparents came to stay and we all started a round the
vigil of medication, talks, love and fear. Craig needed oxygen
we kept tanks full at all times.
During the next two weeks we were back on our
emotional roller coaster.
Craig would have some good days and some bad days. Then, in the early
of Monday, April 10, Craig started to take a turn for the worse. The
nurse stayed with us that day and we tried to make Craig comfortable and
peaceful. He passed away at 8:50 in the evening with his mother, father,
brother and nurse by his side.
A wonderful young man left this world and we miss him
We hope he is free of pain, breathing easily, laughing and enjoying
Something he was unable to
do for a very long time.