Sunday, February 14, 2016

A business school professor in 1916 was traveling with his son on windy, hilly roads near Chattanooga, Tennessee, when their Ford Model T swerved and tumbled down an embankment. Unable to right it from its upside down position in a creek, Professor John Wiley contacted Ernest Holmes (Ernest W. Holmes, Sr.), a former student and now business owner and mechanic in the city. Holmes, originally from near Huntsville, Alabama, but having grown up in Chattanooga, came to the rescue with ropes and four more men. It took them eight messy, tiring hours to pull the single automobile out. That experience set Holmes’ mechanically-inclined, business-trained mind in motion. Back at his garage, having resolved to never do that, like that, for anyone again, he outfitted a 1913 Cadillac with a crane and pulley
 system to pull vehicles out of predicaments and bring them back to his garage for repair. After refining the recovery and towing system, Holmes began outfitting more trucks and sold them to other garages so that instead of waiting for business to drive by, they could go get their business and bring it back to their shop. He did more than create a product, or even create a business, he created a new industry -  the Towing and Recovery industry.

We toured the International Towing and Recovery Museum in Chattanooga Saturday as part of our boys-plus-mom weekend. As I mentioned in the last post, we took advantage of the girls being gone for the long weekend, and took the boys on a quick little trip for small stuff thats big to them. The

museum was interesting, if you like old trucks that lift things, it was a neat place. And, what a surprise to learn that the tow truck “inventor” was from near Huntsville. I can not find where “near” is, but pretty much everything has him being from Chattanooga anyway. I think his family left Huntsville when he was very young for his father to work on the railroad in Chattanooga, so Chattanooga wants to claim him. Since he birthed an entire industry there, I guess they can have him. I tried to find the history of Holmes Avenue in Huntsville, but could not in my brief googling and wondered if there was a connection. His father was John D Holmes, but if he had to move to find work with the
 railroad, I can’t imagine that Huntsville would name a street after him, and if his entrepreneurial son called Chattanooga home, I can’t imagine it is named after him either.

After the museum, we rode the Incline Railway. I’ve never been on it, and if you can get over the incredible tourist trap that it is, it was neat to at least say that we’ve done it. Caleb loves any kind of train/trolley car, so it was worth it just for him. You’ll have to google that history, too much for me to cover in just a paragraph or two. After the incline, we joined the rest of Chattanooga for dinner at Texas Roadhouse for our Valentine’s Day. Ugh.

Sunday morning, we worshipped with Central Church of Christ in downtown Chattanooga, and the
 members were very friendly. Someone even gave me coupons for attractions, and a couple of fast food places. But, we opted for Mellow Mushroom, which we all like, and it is very close to the Aquarium. We toured the Aquarium today, then had Cracker Barrel for dinner, then the boys had a pillow-fight game in the hotel room for a good while before hitting the hay.

We will be coming home in the morning. Vic is going to get in some work hours, and I’ve got traffic school. Believe it or not, even with probably 20 speeding tickets in my 30-year driving career, I’ve never been to traffic school. So, I guess I can check off another “first.” Funny, I really expected
to be checking off things like “sky-diving” or “Grand Canyon” or “race car driving”.

As I mentioned, I had a busy week last week. I spoke briefly at the Kiwanis Club dinner in Huntsville about our non-profit group, and they we all very nice, as expected. If anyone within driving distance of Athens, Alabama has a group, or club, or employee group, I’d love to come share a few thoughts with them about our non-profit org. I’m not a speaker, but I am passionate about the subject!

We are hopeful and do expect to hear from a doctor in Augusta, Georgia, about a phase one trial at Georgia Regents University. It’s open now, no waiting, and it involves immunotherapy in a
 combination punch. This round, I have talked with Seattle, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Miami, DeVos, Mayo, Johns Hopkins, Birmingham, and Boston, but either they had nothing new, Eli didn’t qualify, a trial was on hold, or the trial was single agent (one drug testing). Another mom in a similar difficult situation said someone mentioned that they would be hesitant for this trial because of the lack of data. We do not have the luxury of data any more. We are the data. We now base our decisions in treatment on theories, chances, hopes, and rats. Eli will be the second of two medullo kids on this trial, and the only medullo kid in the arm of which he will enroll. Data would be nice, and one day because of Eli, there
will be some. This will be his fourth phase one trial.

Eli has passed the initial screening for the IDO Pathway Inhibitor trial, and we are waiting on a radioncologist to review his history and prepare a radiation plan for him. Yes, we are considering reirradation. This treatment in the lab had the most affect when combined with radiation, so it has been worked into the trial of the drug. It is an immunotherapy drug called Indoximod. Also, joining radiation and Indoximod is our old friend Temozolomide. We like that this trial involved more than just one drug, and we like that it is not subgroup specific (it’s not even cancer specific, really. It
 is just turning on the immune system to fight what is foreign, basically. That is an incredibly dumbed-down explanation, but best I can do tonight). This trial will not be as easy as the others. Short-term, he will loose his hair and be sick due to the radiation, but we are also risking necrosis of the brain. With his history of high-dose, maxed out radiation, hitting him with more will certainly cause noticeable cognitive issues, and further bone growth distortion. The reality is, there will be a necrotic affect. When it will show, we can’t know. It could be immediate. He may quickly morph into a vegetable. Or, it could be a long-term affect. We are gambling the latter. We are putting all our marbles in for his life now,
 not for a down-the-road that isn’t there anyway. So, to sum it up, we are choosing to fight what is in front of us, with what is in front of us, to
hopefully have what is in front of us.

I am expecting that we will go to Georgia maybe even toward the end of the week, or beginning of the next for initial visits, then start the trial at the beginning of March. This will again, be a situation where we will be gone for a month. I am really numb to think about leaving
again, especially with this trial being so volatile, and Eli’s progression being so far along. Some heavy things can happen during that month. I want Vic to take a leave-of-absence from work and come with us. I don’t even know that they do that kind of thing, I just made it up. And then have the kids Skype-in school, I just made that up, too. But, I’m a jump-in-just-do-what-we-need kind of gal, Vic is a more of a backing-up-yikes-I-don’t-know kind of guy. 

Meanwhile, we are going to do more work in the Mustang room this week, and I will post pics as we get more up. Continue to remember Emma, from our hometown. She remains under intensive care,
and is developing complications again that they are controlling. And, Charlie, who is at Disney, and will be coming home to a new treatment. And, Chandler, who guts it out in-clinic a lot in Memphis.
 Preston and Kosta, so many, I just can’t name them all. If you like sending things to St. Jude, send to Emma Clark, and Chandler Howard, put from Friends of Eli the Eliminator. And, in general, if you have a class that wants to send cards, put on the address “ATTN: A Special Patient” and they will give it out to kids that don’t get mail, is the way I understand it. Just keep the cards non-gender, non-age specific (like use puppies and sunshines, instead of princesses or superheroes), and always positive! The address is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Attn: A Special Patient, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

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