(Tom speaks only for himself in this blog and not for the Court.)
A status report on Tom and Judy’s health is at the end.
On October 27, I was the recipient of the 2013 UW School of Law Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Alumni Public Service Award. Being chosen for the award was great. I thought about all the athletes who have a microphone stuck in their face and asked, “What does winning this game (match, tournament, race, etc.) mean to you?” Well, it is bigger than that. You can set your sights on winning a game or championship, being named “All Star” or becoming president. But this award is not something you can reach for. Instead, 45 or 50 years after becoming a lawyer, your peers tap you on the shoulder and say, “Tom, you have distinguished us and yourself with a lifetime of work and personal decisions.” It is cool.
The awards presentation was fantastic too. First, I was told that the UW School of Law had its largest turnout ever for its awards presentation by over 100 people. My class of 1969 was well represented. A young Japanese Lawyer, Kazuaki Sono, joined our class as a 1L and became the first person to become both a US and Japanese lawyer. He helped establish the Asian Law Studies program at the UW Law School. He, his wife, his mother-in-law, and his two boys were guests in our home on many occasions. We became lifelong friends. He went on to an extremely distinguished career at the United Nations and as a professor at the University of Sapporo. He traveled from Japan to be at the event and to be with me and is pictured above.
After several years as clerks, public defenders, private practice and other efforts at the law, four classmates, Jim Marston, Hal Hodgins, Bud (Owen) Gardner and I came together to start shaky private practices out of the Fourth and Pike Building in downtown Seattle. Jim, Hal and I ended up practicing together for about 15 years. We call ourselves the Four Musketeers. We were together again.
From left: Hal Hodgins, Tom Chambers, Jim Marston, Bud Owens.
Dean Testy presented and Justice Faith Ireland (Ret) did me the honor of accepting the award on my behalf. A family member caught the presentation, about 10 minutes, on a video camera if you would like to watch.
If you have been reading these updates, you are aware that my treatment and activities have been in waves. I get very sick with cancer, take chemo for a month or two, get very sick from the chemo, take a few weeks to recover from the chemo and have a few weeks of activities before becoming so sick from cancer that I must take chemo again. I am thankful for the waves because it has permitted Judy and me to make some trips and squeeze some more joy out of life. But the wave cycle is shortening and I am progressively more de-conditioned.
My doctors have offered an alternative to chemo, which I refer to as the trials drug. Instead of attacking the tumors with toxic chemicals, the trials drug boosts the person’s own immune system. It is only effective for about 20% of those who have tired it. But to my doctors, I look like a good fit for this trials drug. If it works, I would have an infusion of the trials drug once every two weeks. There are few side effects. If it works, the trials drug offers a potentially longer land better quality of life.
There was no easy way to slide from the chemo drug to the trials drug. The chemo drug is harmful to the immune system. So I did not take the chemo drug as planned after September in Hawaii. By the time we left Hawaii, I had a tumor in my armpit the size of a golf ball. I think chemo would have brought it down in size but delayed my goal of getting the trials drug longer.
I started the trials drug, the tumor grew at an incredible pace so it was the size of a softball in about 3 weeks. I was in incredible pain. I had a ten day course of radiation on the tumor in my left armpit only. The last day of the radiation was Oct. 27, the day I received the Henry M. Jackson Award. I was a hurting puppy on that day.
The radiation on my armpit is working and the tumor has shrunk to the size of a tennis ball. The pain is still there but not as sensitive. I still use the pillow you see in the photos to prevent my arm from squeezing my armpit.
I have now been on the trials drug 5 1/2 weeks. It is too early to tell if it is going to work but there are no definite signs of improvement. On the other hand there are no definite signs it is getting worse. But I am very fatigued and de-conditioned. I want to sleep all day. I am in a wait-and-see situation right now. I am not planning any trips but have not given up hope.
Judy is also on waves. Her infusions are three weeks apart and for the first 5 days or so after an infusion, she is too sick to leave the house. When we returned from Hawaii in September, they discovered that one of the tumors in her brain had grown to about an inch and she had a couple of small ones. She had Gamma Knife (radiation) surgery to remove the tumors. She reports feeling much better. This is the first Gamma Knife surgery she has had so it remains to be seen how long it lasts but likely a long time.