John Trimble has always taken care of his health by scheduling regular annual medical examinations. After coughing for several months, he was treated for adult-onset asthma. Then extreme fatigue and shortness of breath set in.
“The medications and treatments had helped with the cough,” the Fishers resident said. “When I reported the fatigue and shortness of breath to my pulmonologist, he became concerned that I might have heart issues and suggested that my GP refer me to a cardiologist.
“At the time, I thought my asthma was getting worse just because it was really hot, and the heat and humidity seemed to make it worse.”
But a CT scan revealed something much worse: lung cancer and heart failure.
“It was nothing short of a punch,” Trimble said. “There was no family history of cancer and I have always been active and reasonably fit, so heart disease made no sense to me. on my heart and that’s what precipitated the A-fib (atrial fibrillation).
trimble cardiologist, Dr. Ali Iqtidar, IU Health Saxony Hospitalstated that it is rare to have A-fib and cancer at initial presentation.
“However, we are increasingly recognizing the interplay between heart failure and cancer,” Iqtidar said. “Some of the risk factors can predispose a patient to both conditions. Additionally, cancer patients have increased inflammation and a tendency for blood to clot, which can increase the risk of heart attack and heart failure. Therefore, some cancers increase the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease many times over.
Trimble’s initial treatment was aimed at slowing down and getting his heart back into rhythm. He spent 13 days in the hospital.
“Unfortunately, because of my cancer, I was not immediately a candidate for electrical cardioversion. I finally went home with meds and then turned my attention to the cancer,” Trimble said. “Dr. Nasser Hanna of IU Health Simon Cancer Center had genetic testing done on my cancer, and when that was done, we found out there was a new drug from Eli Lilly called Retevmo that was a perfect match for my cancer. cancer.
Within 10 days of starting treatment, he had no supplemental oxygen, and within 60 days, his cancer had shrunk by 90%.
“During my initial cancer screenings, they had determined that the cancer had spread to my brain and I had five small spots detectable on MRI, so I had a Gamma Knife procedure at Methodist Hospital. of UI health in which small doses of radiation were placed by laser on the spots,” he said. “This procedure was successful and the cancer has not returned to the brain. Right now I have a small amount of cancer remaining in my lungs, but the Retevmo has kept it isolated and it is receding.
“In August 2021, (Iqtidar) had me undergo a cardioversion procedure which was successful, and my heart has been in rhythm ever since.”
Iqtidar credits Trimble with her determination to heal for her positive response to treatment.
“John showed extraordinary courage and grace at all times during his ordeal,” Iqtidar said. “He stoically coped with the difficulties of diagnostics, took a practical approach to his treatment, no matter how severe the course.”
Trimble’s message to other men is to “be proactive about your health.”
“Don’t let problems surprise you just because you’re afraid of getting bad news or afraid of being told to change your diet or take medicine for cholesterol or blood pressure,” Trimble says. “You only live once and your body is the only car you’ll ever drive. Maintenance is key to longevity. There’s another thing that’s important to me, and that’s continuity of care I believe in having a general practitioner whom I trust and that this doctor refers me to specialists and then monitors my general health.
“Don’t delay taking care of yourself,” he said. “Especially if that ‘off’ feeling persists without a clear explanation.”