Jim Logan: Video producer fights ongoing battle with leukemia

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:27 pm

Jim Logan: Video producer fights ongoing battle with leukemia

By Elizabeth Geldermann, SBT Reporter

In August 1999, Jim Logan was seconds from leaving the parking lot of Logan Productions Inc., Fox Point, when his phone rang.
His doctor called just as he was heading out to a two-week video shoot for Deere & Co. in Europe, and Logan asked the doctor to give him the news over the phone. Dr. Greg Matthews then told him that he believed Logan had been diagnosed with leukemia.
"That was a bizarre morning," says Logan. "My wife Beth and I had just completed our estate planning and finalized our wills. When I told her what had happened, she literally crumpled to the floor crying."
Logan still went to Europe that morning, although he said it was a difficult flight. The minute he landed, he began searching the Internet for more information on the blood-related cancer.
According to Logan, a bone marrow transplant was the only treatment at the time that promised a cure, but only if the patient survived the procedure.
"I was fortunate in that I was able to fly around the country to look at different facilities," says Logan. "We found the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where the procedure was invented, and scheduled a transplant for Jan. 21, 2000."
The date was set, and Logan’s brother agreed to be the matching donor. However, in November, Logan had second thoughts.
"I went to our summer home in northern Wisconsin, and it was really tough to close everything up," says Logan. "Just saying goodbye to neighbors knowing full well you might not make it back."
After returning home, Logan caught a short report on a television news station about a drug discovered by Brian Druker, M.D., of Oregon Health Sciences University, used to treat leukemia.
The pill, STI-571, also known as Gleevec, would not be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) until May of 2001. The only way Logan could receive the drug in 1999 was to be a participant in a research study.
"He had treated seven people already, and the results were good," says Logan, who tried as hard as he could to contact Druker. "There were no known side effects, and it seemed like the better choice."
Logan finally contacted Druker, only to find that he was not qualified for the study.
"I asked him if he would at least see me," says Logan. "I went to his office with my wife and my son. What was supposed to be 15 minutes turned into multiple hours of conversation. I found out that a new study was being developed, a combination of the Gleevec with a low dosage of conventional chemotherapy."
When Logan decided on the combination treatment instead of risking his life through a bone marrow transplant, he was told he would be the first person ever to try the combination.
Logan gratefully chose the option of receiving the new treatment and moved to Portland, Ore., for 3-1/2 months in April 2000. While participating in the study, Logan never stopped working for his film production company, which he co-owns with his wife.
"I rented an apartment and hooked up a high-speed line with an audio and video link to the office," says Logan. "I had speakers and cameras all over the apartment. It was great, because it was on Beth’s desk, so I could see her and the people that worked there, which was nice. It was very practical at the time."
Logan says he did pull back from the amount of participation he normally had in each project and his income producing ability was affected.
"I know I could not have done it without Beth being here (in Milwaukee)," says Logan. "It is still a very hands-on business, and I was not able to run out and do shoots or direct events."
Logan continues using Gleevec, flying back to Portland when needed, but ended the low-dose chemotherapy last July, when he was told the cancer was in remission.
"You really have to keep a sense of humor through all of this because it is just too huge. Otherwise it brings you down," says Logan. "It is interesting because the impact on you as a person having the illness is the biggest impact, but there is a huge impact on those around you. You have to acknowledge that."
Despite the lingering sense of worry in the back of his mind, Logan has continued to develop his production company over the last four years. Logan Productions was Logan’s dream when he created the company as the sole employee in 1978. The company has since grown to 22 employees, transformed into a digital cinema studio and offers corporate event production and equipment rental.
"You have to get used to living with this kind of looming in the background, because you never quite know what the next turn is going to be," says Logan. "The keys are attitude and the people who support you – family, friends, doctors, business associates. Through this process, I have met a lot of great people that have it a whole lot worse, yet keep moving forward."
Last year, Logan found he was no longer in remission and had to once again explore his options and consider a bone marrow transplant. In July 2003, Logan became aware of the possibility of another combination treatment, this time featuring a high dose of chemotherapy with Gleevec.
"You owe it to yourself to explore every option," says Logan. "You need to look at the survival statistics and think how aggressive you can be. It is just like running a business – you are managing your life – the same principles apply."
Logan plans to begin the six months of treatment in January. Having to deal with the immediacy of the cancer once again does not seem to have deterred Logan from finding a cure or continuing to go through his normal daily routine.
"This is who I am. It is always there," says Logan. "It would be great to wake up and not think about it. It would be great to say I’m cured, but it becomes part of you and your family. You have to push your illness to the end of the spectrum and remember who and what you are. You haven’t changed. You just happen to have a little add-on."

Dec. 26, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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