WRITER: ARIANNE NARDO
CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: March 30, 2000
UI Cancer Center airway treatment helps Lisbon man with lung cancer
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- An Iowan -- a husband, a truck driver, a father -- who
is experiencing lung cancer, is now helping educate others about living with
the disease, three months after undergoing a special procedure at the University
of Iowa Cancer Center.
Myron Evans, 48, a resident of Lisbon, was diagnosed in February 1999 with
lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death among men and women. He began
a six-week program of radiation and chemotherapy in Cedar Rapids, and while
Evans struggled with the effects of the radiation and chemotherapy, he struggled
even more with the news that there was little shrinkage in his tumor.
He continued on with another regime and type of chemotherapy, yet his condition
worsened quickly. He had great difficulty breathing, causing him to be hospitalized.
While still hospitalized, his breathing stopped, and he was placed on a ventilator.
After Evans underwent several tests, Darrel Dennis, M.D., a pulmonary physician
found a nearly complete blockage of Evans' main breathing tube, explaining
his struggle to breathe.
"At that time they had given him between two days to two weeks to live,"
said his wife, Connie Evans. "They told me there wasn't much they could
do there. He either needed to be put on a respirator, and I could keep him
on it to help him continue breathing, or I could do nothing."
Connie Evans recalls making a phone call to her pastor, asking for his help
in making the decision. Searching for help, Connie again talked with Dennis,
who told her of an airway procedure done at the UI Cancer Center.
"I didn't feel that the information they had given me at that time
was enough to base my decision on," she said. "But by some grace
of God, Myron woke up and said, 'Yes, I want to go to Iowa City,' and it was
the best thing that happened to us."
Connie Evans recalls her first meeting with Geoffrey McLennan, M.D., UI
associate professor of internal medicine and head of Bronchoscopy Services
at the UI Cancer Center. McLennan went to a chalkboard in the room and drew
a picture of the lungs and how the blockage occurred in her husband's airway.
He explained how the Major Airway Obstruction Group had successfully removed
350 such blockages using a procedure called Endoscopic Airway Surgery (EAS),
and McLennan felt this group could remove Evans' blockage with this surgery.
"The service we offer is to clear those blockages out using endoscopic
telescopes, either flexible or rigid," McLennan said. "The procedure
is not operative in the sense that there are scars and stitches. It's all
worked through the nose and mouth to unblock these airways."
While the procedure does not cure cancer, it does increase the quality and
comfort of life for the patient.
The UI Cancer Center offers a group of multi-disciplinary specialists who
approach patient care as a team. McLennan said an increasing number of health
care professionals in Iowa and surrounding states are referring patients diagnosed
with lung cancer to the UI Cancer Center for consultation and treatment. Referrals
allow patients who require highly specialized treatments, such as those provided
by the Major Airway Obstruction Group, to receive the most advanced care available.
Patients then continue to be cared for by their hometown physician.
Alan F. Ross, M.D., UI associate professor of anesthesia and anesthetist
consultant for the airway group, also helped treat Evans.
"Cases such as Evans' present a challenge given that Evans had lost
the entire function of his right lung. The maintenance of breathing is always
the highest priority for the anesthesiologist," Ross said. "These
cases require your best skills during an operation. As a result, the patient
can breathe comfortably without your assistance."
The airway procedure took roughly an hour to complete, and Evans returned
home without the need of a ventilator. Although he had a weak voice for several
days, his family joked that it may have been a mixed blessing for them.
"When we took him from the hospital in Cedar Rapids to Iowa City, they
didn't expect him to come home," said Connie Evans. "When Dr. McLennan
told me he would probably go home the next day, we were just in shock. I couldn't
believe he was talking about going home, let alone the next day."
She added, "We like the idea of the two hospitals working together
A year since his diagnosis, Evans said he takes things one day at a time.
He was able to celebrate his 19th wedding anniversary with Connie, and has
time to spend with his children. He continues chemotherapy treatment.
"They call me the miracle-man," he said.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the
UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care,
medical education and research programs and services they provide.