“My Voice” by Gary Eudy

Gary Eudy - 'Survivor'

My Name Is Gary Eudy.  I am 55 years old and was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2004.  I had a colon resection in 2004 and thought my cancer was in remission.  My checkups had gone down from 3 to 4 and then every 6 months.  When I asked for my lab results in May of 07, the oncologist told me that they would call me if there was anything abnormal……When I went back in December 07 for my 6 month checkup, I could tell by the look on the Oncologist’s face that something was wrong.  My CEA level in May had elevated to 4 times the normal level.   Even though the Oncologist had seen and initialed the result, no one contacted me.  By the time December rolled around my CEA level was 20 times the normal level.  CT and Pet scans showed a huge tumor had metastasized to my liver.

I had chemo for several months and the tumor reduced in size enough where they could do a liver resection, removed part of my liver and my gall bladder.  Several rounds of chemo followed. As of today, my CEA level is in the normal range.  Six weeks ago I underwent another surgery.  This time to repair a hernia that had developed along the incision line from my liver resection.  It ended up being a lot more extensive than originally thought. They used a 12 x 14 inch piece of mesh to rebuild the entire right side of my abdomen. I feel great today!

Being a survivor and a Cancer survivor means many things to me.  My daughter Caitlin died in 2001 after a simple tonsillectomy.  She was over sedated during the procedure, went into respiratory arrest and then cardiac arrest. After months of unanswered questions, I ended up going to a lawyer to see if he could get me some answers as to why she died.  The hospital, doctors and the medical examiner’s office were all involved in trying to cover it up.  My wife and I were in the legal process for 4½ years before we finally had all the answers to why she died. We survived the process, but it was very difficult.  My attorney told me after everything was over that even though it was the worst case of medical malpractice he had ever seen, it wasn’t economically feasible to take this kind of case anymore because of caps on non-economic damages in Texas.  He no longer takes medical malpractice or negligence cases that involve children or the elderly because of the costs involved in hiring expert witnesses and the fact that the large firms who defend such cases draw them out as long as possible.

I decided then that I needed to do something. I wrote letters to politicians, talked to many candidates running for office, and although many of them were sympathetic to the plight of our children and elderly, they would not take a stand against limits on law suits because it is politically unpopular.  The general public doesn’t realize that these caps are unreasonable and think that tort reform of the sort that was passed in Texas limit frivolous lawsuits.  This could not be farther from the truth.  What the Texas legislature, lobbyist, and insurance companies have done is make it virtually impossible to bring suit if it involves a child or elderly person who has no economic loss. I soon found out that my efforts to change the system were not going to work.  They have taken access to the courts from people that need it the most.  I decided to become part of the system.  I survive for Caitlin.  I survive so other parents will not have to endure what we have.

I enrolled at the University of Houston in the summer of 05 and received my BA in the summer of 07.  I entered South Texas College of Law in the fall of 07 and will graduate next May with my JD and take the Bar Exam in July.  I think that every parent who loses a child due to negligence or medical malpractice deserves the right to know why their child was killed or permanently injured.  I intend to be a spokesperson for those parents. I also intend to influence others to do the same. There are many fabulous doctors and hospitals here in the Houston area, but unfortunately there are some that give second rate or even worse care.  We need to make sure that the standard of care is as good as it can possibly be.

Being a survivor means taking personal responsibility for our own health care.  I fired my first oncologist and my second one fired me.  He told me that he didn’t think he could live up to my expectations.  He did me a great favor.  I am now cared for by a competent and caring oncology group, one who takes the time to answer all my questions and gives me all viable options in my treatment.

Being a survivor means not letting cancer get in the way of our goals.  When I went to the registrar’s office here at the law school asking permission to record the classes I would miss because of my chemo treatments, they flat out told me this was against policy and handed me a medical withdrawal application.  I don’t take rejection well and went up the ladder until my hero; Dean Jenkins gave me permission to get someone to record the classes I missed.  I was still able to physically attend the requisite number of classes required by the American Bar Association.  I took chemo at the Infusion Center 3 days a week, every other week and then wore a chemo pump to school.  I had surgery the week after finals.

Being a survivor means living for those that have gone on before us and living for those who are suffering from Cancer now.  It means giving our support to those who are not doing as well as we are.  It means helping educate each other and sharing our experiences. We are all in this together. “We are survivors.”  “I am a Survivor.”