Jim Eaton Eaton Updates

First post: Nov 22, 2021 Latest post: May 18, 2023
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement.

*** For those of you who may have just now become aware of my situation and/or desire more details, let me share what has transpired in my life since August 19, 2021…and “always know” how appreciative I am for your concern and certainly for your positive thoughts and prayers…

And fyi, on August 18th, 2021, I played golf and felt absolutely great in all possible respects!

August 19th - unexpectedly doubled over in severe abdominal pain and vomiting at home…went to the ER at Long Beach Memorial Hospital and several hours later after a CT scan received the news that the pain was due to a kidney stone. However, there was something else on the scan (incidental finding) that was even more concerning…..a baseball size mass inside of my left lung.
August 21st - had unsuccessful lithotripsy surgery at LB Memorial to blast out the kidney stone…a stent was inserted between my kidney and bladder as a result…which we now know was left in for the next 3 months…uggh
August 25th - had PET scan at LB Memorial confirming the mass was active and cancerous.
Sept 1st - had another CT scan at LB Memorial in advance of biopsy surgery.
Sept 3rd - had a bronchoscopy biopsy surgery at LB Memorial revealing that the tumor in my lung was malignant and a sarcoma of some sort as there are 50 different sarcomas!
Sept 13th - had major lung cancer surgery at LB Memorial wherein half of my left lung was removed, the tumor was completely removed with clear margins (great news), but unfortunately 1 of the 28 lymph nodes removed during surgery also had the cancer in it…implying that there is an extremely high probability that cancer particles still exist in the potentially hundreds of other lymph nodes in that area of my body. Was advised by my oncologist that chemo will be needed after recovery from my surgery to attack whatever is left in my body. The mass was sectioned and it was ultimately determined that my cancer is Stage III “Synovial Sarcoma”….a rare cancer that occurs in 1-2 persons out of a million! A 6-8 week recovery process from surgery commenced, in which after the first five days in the hospital, I sat, slept, and ate in my family room recliner for the next three weeks, but walked daily as far as my body would allow.
Sept 20th - received my “first opinion” for the chemo protocol to follow from my oncologist at the LB Memorial Todd Cancer Institute. More on that recommendation later.
Sept 22nd - had a chest X-ray and follow up appt with my cardiothoracic surgeon. Was told by him that there is a greater than 50% chance this sarcoma will return at some point with or without chemo…another uggh.

OK for some fun…..
Sept 26th - 13 days post surgery, Sheri drove me to the Rams vs Tampa Bay Bucs game to see Tom Brady play…shocker, I know…but the Rams accommodated us with special parking at SoFi Stadium and our season seats require no stair climbing so all I had to do was walk back and forth from the parking lot and stay seated for the most part through the entire game. Made it 3 quarters and thankfully our Rams had a big lead by that time which allowed for an easy out of the parking lot.
Oct 3rd - my son, Chris, drove me to the Rams vs Arizona Cardinals game to see my fellow Sooner, Kyler Murray, play. Same script as the previous week only reversed…made it 3 quarters, but this time it was Kyler’s Cardinals who had such a big lead on our Rams, we again had an easy out of the parking lot.

OK back to the medical journey…
Oct 26-28 - Sheri and I flew to Houston for what ended up being two days of “2nd Opinion” meetings with Dr. Araujo, the world’s leading expert on Synovial Sarcomas, and a blood lab and CT scan, all at MD Anderson (MDA), the world’s #1 rated Cancer Center. Dr. A recommended a rigorous six cycle chemo regimen beginning as early as Nov 2nd (5 days later!!) and only at MDA and not outpatient, but up to a week in the hospital to start. Clearly at age 65, this was difficult to hear both timing wise and in light of some pre-existing conditions obviously around my kidney and also around my heart. Took a couple of days in Galveston to sort our thoughts and talk with many, but clearly when returning to LB, we were feeling there would likely not be a better option to pursue. And btw, the first opinion protocol mentioned earlier was for four cycles of the same two medicines and was all outpatient in nature beginning sometime in December. Each opinion predicted slightly different % chances for survival, but each with ranges in the 70+ percentile for 3 years and 60+ percentile for 5 years….with CT scans every three months for the rest of my life in ongoing hope and prayer for no reoccurrences and the possibility of a full life span ahead. But upon returning home, we were determined to not stop gathering other expert opinions…just in case!!
Nov 3rd - met with the new head of the Sarcoma Center at UC Irvine Medical Center who for the past 30 years had been at City of Hope National Medical Center. And much to our surprise, this leading oncologist firmly prescribed no chemo required, but simply a “Watch and Wait” strategy wherein if the sarcoma reappears, surgery will be needed again…and potentially again and again, if necessary. His theory was based on a European study published about 10 years prior wherein over 350 people were divided in half with one group receiving chemo and the other no chemo…..five years later approximately 67% of both groups had survived, thus supporting his theory that chemo is ineffective against “sarcomas” (but of which Synovial Sarcomas were just about 11% of the overall sample taken)…uggh…a polar opposite strategy from MDA. A day later I shared this opinion and article with Dr. Araujo at MDA and she said that the amount of chemo given to the one control group was not nearly sufficient enough to make a difference...also, it should be noted that the UCI specialist had treated about 50 Synovial Sarcoma cases in his 30 year career and Dr. A treats hundreds of these cases annually.
Nov 5th - spoke at length with my oncologist in LB that had originally prescribed the 4 cycle regimen telling him about the polar opposite opinions we now had from MDA and UCI. He said he is a “go get it and kill it kinda guy” and would not want to get downstream and regret not having done all that could have been done up front to prevent re-occurrence. He then blew me away by saying if it was him, he would go to MDA in Houston for treatment due to Dr. Araujo’s vast expertise.
But we didn’t stop there…by God’s grace and through my dear friend, Bill Shumard, and his close friend, Fred Claire, we were able to arrange one more sarcoma expert opinion…
Nov 15th - we met with the relatively new head of the Sarcoma Center at City of Hope National Medical Center, but a man with tremendous experience over the past 20 years that treats about 30 Synovial Sarcoma cases annually. He was a wealth of knowledge for us and supports chemo for dealing with this cancer, but only up to the age of 50, due to the potential damage to other organs in my 65 year old body which could create other long term issues. He said in my case he would agree with a “Watch and Wait” strategy. However, he also said he has great respect for Dr. Araujo and MDA and would certainly respect my decision to go in that direction, if desired. He did say however that he is 100% sure there are remaining cancer particles in my body…thus either chemo or future surgery would be required, at some point. With all that now said, it was time to make a final decision…and knowing me, I also knew I had to choose a path leaving me with no regrets…thus, MD Anderson was the route chosen, of course with Sheri’s full support.
Nov 19th - had another unsuccessful lithotripsy surgery to remove the kidney stent and blast out the stone from August 19th. A 1.5 hour surgery became a 4.5 hour surgery to remove the heavily encrusted stent (after three months in me) and partially blast out the existing stone, wherein another stent was inserted again..big time uggh!
Nov 22nd - flew to Houston and began to journal on this CaringBridge app which my oldest daughter, Brittany, set up for me.

I share all of this and my future journey not looking for sympathy, as I know having cancer is not unique to me, but rather because I firmly believe in the power of intercessory prayer and words of encouragement in times like these. I also believe in God’s Word being our armor for life at all times, good and bad. I believe in what Jesus said in Matthew 15:20 “For where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am with them”. And last I believe in the power of healing from which my dear friend, Harris Wheeler, shared the following with me -

The Five Ways God Heals:
1. Natural healing where the body heals itself over time,
2. Modern medicine - surgery / drugs,
3. God’s grace sufficient to live with the ailment or disease,
4. A miracle…an unexplained and sudden healing, and
5. Death in this broken life transformed into an eternal life in heaven with Him (the ultimate healing).

So how do we pray? I personally believe in praying for specific outcomes based upon what Jesus told his disciples in John 14:13-14 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask for anything in my name, and I will do it.” In the end, whichever of the aforementioned ways in which God chooses to heal me according to His Will, not mine, I am fully at peace knowing, “It Will Be Good”.

With all my love and respect, thank you for joining me on my journey and blessing me and my family with all of your encouraging thoughts and chosen prayer. Jim