return to DigiTeel website

Stephen Teel, AKA "Duckman", died peacefully in his sleep at 8:30 PM, 31 July 2004, on the night of a blue moon.
This webpage was his personal "battle journal" chronicling his war against cancer.

Stephen's Memorial Wake Party       Car raffled to help support Stephen's widow      Newspaper article remembering Stephen

This is the general sequence of events in my fight against tonsil and lung cancer and my new battle with Esophageal and Liver Cancer.
It ain't over yet!

Nov-97 I noticed a swollen lymph node, or so I assumed, and wrote it off to the recent sore throat I'd had.
Dec-97 The swelling had not gone away but I didn't think much about it at that time either.
Feb-98 I became more concerned with the swollen gland so I scheduled an appointment with my ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist). He noticed that my tonsil looked infected so he removed a piece of it and sent it to a lab. The pathology report came back positive with poorly-differentiated squamous cell carcinoma. I was informed of my options and we decided on surgery and radiation.
11Mar-98 Had radical neck dissection surgery then 4 to 6 weeks of recovery. Click here for post-op pictures. Here is a picture of the patch in my throat they made from skin on my wrist to replace the hole left by my tonsil cancer surgery.
Apr-98 Started radiation April 13th 1998 and continued through May 22nd. During the radiation treatment I went from approximately 170 lbs. to 140 lbs.: I weighed 185 prior to the surgery.
Feb-99 At my monthly checkup with my ENT, I complained of a pain in my upper right chest area. I was sent to Imaging for a chest x-ray. The following month, at my monthly checkup, I asked about the x-ray. His office had contacted the office of my primary physician (Internal Medicine Specialist - Diseases of the Lung) but I had not been contacted. My ENT then sent me back to get another x-ray.
15Mar-99 After The x-ray personnel reviewed my second x-ray I was told to contact my doctor right away. I was then scheduled for a C.T. scan of my chest area on Monday March 15th . Tuesday I went to my primary physician for the results. I was then scheduled for a needle biopsy of the right lung area, which came back negative.
25Mar-99 More "CAT" scans
9Apr-99 My bone scan came up clean
20Apr-99 My primary physician (Internal Medicine Specialist - Diseases of the Lung) performed a Bronchoscopy on the right lung. This time the pathology report came back positive for cancer showing moderately differentiated, squamous cell carcinoma, stage II and later, with more testing, was changed to stage III-A. My primary physician then scheduled me to see an Oncologist the following day for a consultation, which is when he broke the news to me about the cancer in my lung. I was told that it is life-threatening and incurable. I had two options: surgery and radiation on affected areas as they show up, or to do chemotherapy which I was told doesn't do very well with this type of cancer. I wasn't satisfied with only these two options, so I went to The City of Hope and was accepted. I want to fight this Cancer in my lung, and wherever else it has spread (hopefully not spread) with every resource available to me. I have already significantly altered my diet and am exercising to get my body and immune system as healthy as possible for this fight. I need someone or some group that is up to date with the latest information and is willing to help me with my fight for life and City of Hope was the right place for it.
22Apr-99 This cancer, I am told, either goes to the bones or the brain and it seems, for me, that it might be going to the brain. It's in the lymph nodes and is a very aggressive cancer that can do a lot of damage very quickly. Today I had a P.E.T. scan to look for cancer "hot spots". Click here to learn more about P.E.T. scans. It seems that the cancer is pretty much localized to the right upper lung. They described it as "A large complex mass" to the front of the right, upper lung and extends peripherally along the pleural surface. They also said that what they found was consistent with the known primary tumor. As far as I know the doctors may take out an upper lobe of one lung, or the entire lung. I was told that it is unusual at my age to have this kind of cancer because it usually shows up more often in elderly men who have had a lifetime of smoking. Hey!... I didn't smoke THAT much! (TIC)
  3rd of May, 1999 - Today's my birthday - I am now 41!
6May-99 They started radiation today. They marked up my body so that they can be accurate when they zap me.

My Treatment Schedule: My Chemotherapy Schedule:
Radiation Every day for 4 weeks Tuesdays after radiation, Taxol for 3 hours
Chemo Tuesdays & Fridays for 3 weeks Fridays after radiation, Taxol/Carbo for 5 hours
8May-99 Got radiated yesterday and had 4 hours of chemo. Surprisingly I still feel pretty good. Want to learn a little about radiation?
2Jun-99 Just got out of the hospital after 3 days. Had a fever of 103o, my throat was too sore to eat (I'd lost even more weight) and my white cell count was around 600. They kept me until my white cell count was over 1,000. I need to take more time for myself and rest, but it's hard to sit still for long when I have so much to do. I am feeling better now and I am still in a pretty good mood.
25Jun-99 All done with Radiation and Chemo and I'm waiting to see if the doctors think I'm ready for surgery. I didn't lose as much hair as I thought I would but, just for the hell of it, I had my sister shave my head. It's growing back a little thinner now but it's still too short to tell. Here are some pics of me on the big zapper and getting Chemo.
Jun-99 Picture of me at the gate in the rose garden. Things are going real good, the cancer site has reduced in size, weight is up and I'm feeling great. Here is a diagram showing the Lymph nodes that are involved in my Lung Cancer. They are the real problem I have.
Jul-99 Finished Chemo and Radiation, got all my scans done, MRI, CAT and BONE. Ready for surgery now.
15Jul-99 Surgery at 9:00 AM to remove the tumor and all or part of my right lung. For more information on Smoking and Lung Cancer go to my Doctor's webpage at

The surgery went well: Read what the surgeon had to say about it. Check out the pictures of me being wheeled off to surgery, in the OR room and getting a Bronchoscopy, the post-op pictures of my monitor wiring, a full ICU-room view and the drainage tube from the incision. Here are some photos showing the actual incision. Here I am staying in touch with YOU! My son is visiting me in this photo.
Oct-99 Doing real good. Working more than I should. Been exercising my Lung and trying to gain more weight. Will be seeing my Doctor on the 24th and hope to have more information and pictures soon. I can be found on Yahoo Cancer Chat most evenings around 9:00 PM PST to Midnight or later.
Nov-99 Ok, I guess I shoulda rested more and eaten more food to get my weight back to a healthier level. I'm back at City of Hope and, yes, there are new pictures already for you to see! After this scare I have resolved to take better care of myself.
  3rd of May, 2000 - Made it to 42. I've still got a few decades left in me!
15Jul-00 Made the First Year after Lung Surgery.
Aug-00 This August I've had a Bone Scan and a CT scan and all is still looking good. Still gaining weight and am up to 150 pounds. Feels great, breathing is great
19Dec-00 My X-ray looked good and all things are doing great. I'm eating a normal diet, look out Taco Bell here I come , and I'm still gaining weight. I went to eating most anything, after my November 1999 ordeal, to gain more weight plus I like my fast food. I do try to eat a balanced diet nothing extreme. Health wise I'm still on the up road. Everything is full steam ahead. See my thoracic surgeon in April and will get a CAT scan to make sure no aliens are growing inside . Finally got up to 155lb. Now if I can only stop at that weight.
  3rd of May, 2001 - Made it to age 43 today!
28May-01 So far all is going great. Blood counts are almost back to normal and I'm gaining weight. All in all I feel really good, hope this will continue for a long time to come. Hope to get a recent photo of me to update this page. I'm still doing great as of July, 2000. Just created a WebRing called The Cancer Warriors WebRing, to link to other Cancer Survivors. I hope it turns out ok.
29Nov-01 Got another P.E.T. Scan done at UCLA. Will post more information and pictures when I get them developed. Still Doing great and still clean
18Dec-01 Looks like I hit a bump in the road. P.E.T. scan showed up something suspicious. Doctors Review of P.E.T. scan: Ill-defined hypermetabolic foci in the inferior posterior left mediastinum, suspicious for malignancy. Recommend correlation with chest CT scan.
28Dec-01 Got the CT Scan and it came back Negative. Guess it was just a fluke . I'll be getting an MRI, Blood Work and a Bone Scan just to be sure.
1Jan-02 MRI, Blood Work and Bone Scan all came back Negative. I'm really Happy Now. Added my P.E.T. and will be adding my MRI and Bone Scan later.
19Apr-02 Saw my Thoracic Surgeon today and my latest CT came back clean. July will mark year 3 of being cancer Free!
  3rd of May, 2002 - Hey! I made it to 44!
28Nov-02 Still going strong, All my check-ups are clean and the Turkey was Good   
Doing Great!

Even got my eyes fixed!

No More Glasses!

  3rd of May, 2003 - Hey! I made it to 45!
13Apr-04 Good and Bad news this time. My MRI was clean but my CT came back with spots on my liver. I'll be going in for more tests to determine what they are, ' Oh Joy'. So I might have to gear up to fight once again. At least I'm at a great Hospital, City of Hope with Great Doctors and staff.
Got the Results from my PET Scan.
1 Hypermetabolic activity in the right paratracheal region versus esophagus at the level of the aortic arch.
2 Hypermetabolic activity in the right mid to lower esophagus or paraesophageal region. The lesions in the mediastinum do not clearly correlate with the CT scan. However, would recommend endoscopic correlation as clinically indicated. (They did a biopsy on the ulcers in my esophagus from the endoscopy which turned up as Squamous Cell Cancer)
3 Four Lesions in the Liver including the anterior and posterior right hepatic lobe.
4 Two lesions in the gastrohepatic ligament, which all basicly means I have cancer in several places in my esophagus and Liver.

View the part of my CT showing the Spots on the liver that are now known to be cancer. At least my Colonoscopy came out clean, so to speak . I wonder who has to clean the instruments?
30Apr-04 Well I start Chemo with Cisplatin On May 10th and will get it once every third week. I understand it's an all-day affair. They will also be putting in a Port-a-cath and later start 5-FU to be administered all the time through a cassette. I'll know more later on that. They are still trying to figure out if I can receive any more radiation directed locally to the tumors in the esophagus.
  3rd of May, 2004 - Hey! I made it to 46!
12May-04 They bumped me to Wednesday. Got my first infusion of the battle. Started with Hydration Followed with Zofran, Decadron, Mannitol then the Cisplatin followed with more hydration, man did I have to pee a lot. So far it all went really good, beats working I guess. Tomorrow I get my Port-a-cath and then they will hook me up to 5FU for a 96 hour infusion using a protable cassette. Should be real interesting.
Here are some pictures of my wife, Doc and me at City of Hope.
13May04 Got my Port-A-Cath installed today and hooked up to a 96 hour portable pump for the 5FU Chemo. Click here to see some pictures of it.
28May04 Back at City of Hope with a high temperature and a low white cell count. Click here to see photos.
28June04 My first two rounds of Chemo have not improved my situation and the spots on the liver have grown. Now I will be going into Clincal Trials using Oxaliplatin (EloxatinŽ), Capecitabine (XelodaŽ) with the experimental drug GTI-2040. I'm hoping that this new mix will actually work.
30July04 The chemo didn't work: The cancer is still growing. Steve is at City of Hope and has been there for about 10 days. Every other day the doctors drain his abdomen of the fluids collect there because the fluids press on his remaining lung making it hard for him to breathe. His skin is turning yellow, a sign that his liver is beginning to fail. He is also experiencing lower back pain, a sign that his kidneys are affected too. The morphine they are giving him minimizes the pain but not enough to sleep so he gets Ativan to his IV to help his sleep. Steve could barely talk because it was too much of an effort to move the air from his lungs. Still, he's optimistic and is patient for when he might be ready for his next round of chemo. However, the doctors told us that his life expectancy could be 5 days or 5 months and any more chemo might be out of the question. He still says he hopes the doctors at City of Hope are getting alot of useful cancer-treatment data from his case.
31July04 At approximately 8:30 tonight, Steve died. According to his wife Cindy he was sleeping peacefully then he just stopped breathing.
(Steve's Motto:)

I want to thank The Doctors and their Staff for helping me with my First Battles with cancer.

Dr. Goral, my ENT (ear nose throat) Doctor for helping me to win my first battle against cancer, tonsil cancer, and without His persistence lung cancer would not have been detected as early as it was.

Thanks to the Fine Staff, Nurses and Technicians of St. Bernardine's Hospital for helping me through my first battle with cancer, you guys were great!

Dr. Grannis, Head of Thoracic Surgery at the City of Hope, Who helped me win my second battle with cancer, Lung Cancer.
"The Doctor who filleted the Duck."

I have to give special thanks to Charlene who is the nicest and most thoughtful Physician Assistant I have ever met. She always stops to talk with you and really helps in uplifting your spirits.

Dr. Twardowski, my oncologist, who supervised the Chemo treatments that beat the cancer back to a smaller size prior to Surgery.
"The Doctor who marinated the Duck."
By the way Doc my wife has a question for you!

Dr. Vora, my radiation oncologist, who supervised my radiation treatments that cooked the cancer into a smaller size prior to Surgery.
"The Doctor who cooked the Duck."

Thanks to the staff at The City of Hope, especially the Nurses, Physician Assistants, Radiation Techs, Residents and Interns. You all are the GREATEST, the Hospital with the most POSITIVE attitude I have ever seen!

And I want to thank the UCLA Medical Center, the leader in P.E.T. Scan Technology. Thanks to Larry and the rest of the Staff... You guys are cool.

Thank you all!
Stephen R. Teel, A.K.A. "Duckman"

This pic illustrates Steve's attitude toward cancer:

All of the text on this website which HE had written will remain exactly as it is now, just as he originally wrote it.