LexieCat joined us on June 29, 2017 after taking advantage of low-dose CT screening for folks at risk for lung cancer. That test revealed a small highly suspicious single nodule that was surgically removed. She had a successful lobectomy; we all hoped she was one and done.
Lexie, a screen name for Teri Garvey, was a district attorney in Camden, NJ. In my younger years, Camden, across the Delaware River from Philly, where I lived, was an industrious town bustling with shipbuilding, soup making (the Campbells Soup Company), distilling, and iron working. The deindustrialization of America hit Camden hard and when the jobs left, crime moved in. Camden, now a hard-edged town, made enforcing the law a dangerous occupation. But Teri was a tough lady, fearless, courageous, and dedicated to justice.
We met in person during the 2018 LUNGevity Summit. She a lawyer, master of words and ideals, and I the engineer, entrenched in physics and things, discovered a fond friendship. Summits are our “shining city upon a hill”. Surviving lung cancer is a mighty forcing function. Our bond of survival transcends differences.
Teri became a bastion of support for our forum. A witty quip-master, her parody of new drug names was quintessential Garvey—“…it makes me think of Buzz Lightyear: “To Imfinzi and beyond.” On starting combination chemo with immunotherapy, she offered: “My motto, walk softly and carry a big drug.” After a clean scan report a member, knowing of her broken collar bone, suggested she not do a happy dance. Teri responded: “Sadly, you know me all too well. [My] Childhood nickname—‘Princess Grace.’”
Nearly 3 years after surgery, a scan showed tumors in her lung and sacrum. Her second-line treatment in September 2020 was combination chemo (carboplatin, Altima and Keytruda). Scans in April 2021 showed progression. She decided to join the arduous and risky Ivoance Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TIL) trial which ended early for her after 5 of 6 scheduled infusions. A good news scan was joyfully celebrated in July but by October, cancer cells were found while draining a pericardial effusion. Her defenses down from the TIL trial, Teri struggled to return to good health. She experienced a series of exhausting hospitalizations from October though the New Year that sapped her energy but not her fortitude. Cancer was beating her body not her spirit. In a private message, she sent me this photo with the quip: “I finally love my hair!” Teri chose hospice care on February 19, 2022. She passed surrounded by loved ones on February 25th.
Teri was one of those very special people I’ve met on my life’s journey. Like so many, her diagnosis was a surprise. Her attitude after diagnosis is one to emulate. Teri told me lung cancer would not change her. She lived every minute of every day caring for people, seeking justice for victims, and helping the unfortunate. She told me she chose the risky TIL trial because it might help someone down the road. It might indeed.
Stay the course.