Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mesothelioma Survivors: Jane Doe, Age 58

The day started out like any other day. I was planning on going out to lunch with two of my long-time friends and then spending the afternoon with my daughter and my three beautiful grandchildren.

I noticed what a beautiful sunny day it was as I drove to my primary care doctor to discuss a reoccurring cough that I had had for the past few months. Previous doctor’s visits had not resulted in any diagnosis; but when my doctor’s office called the previous day, they said I should go in to the office to discuss the next step.

When I left the office only 45 minutes later, I realized my life was changed forever. I had been given the devastating news that I had mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that is currently untreatable.

Looking back on that day, I was in shock. I don’t remember driving home, or how my friends knew enough to come over.

How could this be happening to me?

I have always been a healthy, active woman. Other than losing my husband to lung cancer 4 years ago, I have always had a pretty blessed life. Telling my kids was the hardest part. Knowing that I wouldn’t be around to watch my precious grandchildren grow up, or to see my youngest son get married, was unbearable.

I was about to begin the last chapter of my life... A chapter that no one could ever be prepared to face.

After living in a state of shock, anger, and then followed by severe depression for a few weeks, I began to ‘come out of the fog’. I realized that yes, my life was going to be much shorter than I had anticipated, but I was still alive. I began to seek out support groups for people with terminal illness. This was a tremendous help for me.

It didn’t make having mesothelioma any easier. That part still felt as if I was living a nightmare. What the support group did do was to help me feel like I am not the only person to go through such a horrible experience.

By sharing our stories and our sources of comfort and hope, I felt a sense of being more at peace with things.

One question that I can’t get out of my head is how?

I have always been healthy, active, never smoked…
Where did this horrible disease come from?

It has been concluded that the cause of my disease was 25 years of my husband working as a carpenter and coming home with dust-filled clothes. I always assumed it was drywall dust; in-fact, it was asbestos…

Being the home-maker I was, I routinely did laundry for the family several times a week. Apparently this simple, mundane task that seemed so harmless for all those years, was like breathing in deadly air in the mistaken ‘safety’ of my own home.

The hardest part of this whole illness isn’t all of the pain and suffering that quickly comes along, nor is it the endless doctors appointments, and losing your sense of independence. The worst part of mesothelioma is how quickly the disease progresses and how little time that leaves you with family and loved ones.

I just can’t imagine not being here with them on holidays, and for all of the daily nuances of life. I still struggle with this each and every day, and try to be thankful for every minute I am on this earth with the people I love.

I have some comfort in knowing that when my time comes, I will be able to be with my husband once again, hopefully watching over my family like a guardian angel, to make sure they are never working in an environment that years later could kill them or their own family.


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