Guest Post: Living with Mesothelioma

One of my readers, Heather, recently wrote to me and asked if she could submit a guest post about her experience since receiving a cancer diagnosis.  Please keep reading to learn more about her journey.

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“You have cancer.” Those are three of the scariest words in the English language, and most people, including me, never think that they will ever hear those words in their
lifetimes.  The doctor told me when I was busy celebrating the birth of my baby 3 ½ months earlier.  I never realized how quickly emotions could change.  I went from being ecstatic to fearful because of my pleural mesothelioma diagnosis.  Even worse, I learned that this cancer came from asbestos exposure.

“Isn’t asbestos banned?” “Where were you exposed to asbestos?”  Those were always the two questions that I would get when I told anyone about my diagnosis.  I did not mind telling them that asbestos was not banned, and I was exposed secondhand by my father.  My father had been exposed to asbestos through the construction industry. Each day, he handled material filled with millions of asbestos fibers, and unknowingly, those asbestos fibers would cling to his clothes that he brought into our home.

Thirty-six years old does not sound like the typical mesothelioma patient.  However, I was 36 years old when I was diagnosed.  Most people who had been diagnosed were people who worked in trades that exposed them to asbestos fibers.  They worked as electricians, plumbers, or on shipyards.  Also, women who were the wives of these workers also were diagnosed because when they washed laundry, they did not realize they were handling the millions of asbestos fibers on their husbands’ clothing.

However, I do look like the generation of people who are being diagnosed with mesothelioma today.  These people are young; most are in their late 20’s or early 30’s. I look like them because they too are just getting married, getting new jobs, and having babies.  We have the same backgrounds because we were exposed to asbestos secondhand.  We loved daddy so much that we had to run and hug him in his asbestos filled clothes when he got off from work.  We had to put on his jacket, so our clothes would not get dirty.  We had to follow him all around the house before he cleaned the asbestos from his clothes and body.  Through all of this bad news, there is still good news that lots of people, young and old, are surviving this disease.  Treatment for mesothelioma continues to improve everyone’s chances of
beating this disease.

Yes, hearing you have cancer can take a huge mental toll on you.  Even with that news, I still continue to hold onto hope.  My mesothelioma community supports me, and I support them.  We cry together, but more importantly, we celebrate each and every victory together.

I will continue to do what I do.  I will continue to give people an inside look to asbestos and mesothelioma.  If I can help one person in any kind of way, then I know that I am doing the right thing.

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Heather and her family

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