Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mesothelioma Survivors: John Smith, Age 64

I was always taught by my parents that to live a successful life, I should be an honest, hard-working and compassionate person.I lived each and every day of my life like this.

I began working in the manufacturing plant of a large auto company once I was finished with school. I married my wife 40 years ago and always provided for her and my four kids. We lived a good life, were never wealthy, but comfortable and happy.

I worked long hours, 10 to 12 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week, so that my wife could stay at home and raise our children. I was an honest man who worked his way up to plant manager. I was fair to my workers, and worked side-by-side with them in each area of the plant. We were dedicated to our company and gave them the best years of our lives.

And we were happy to do it.

Now, decades later, I am being re-paid in a way I never expected…

It was almost six weeks ago now that I found out I have a very deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma. This has become the worst word in the English language to me and my family. We were devastated to hear the cruel diagnosis after a short period of time when I was having some trouble breathing. It never crossed our minds that I was breathing in deadly asbestos fibers at the workplace where I gave so much of my life, 50 hours or more a week for years.

Each breath I took while at work was contributing to my early death sentence.

I felt so betrayed.

So, I have now begun my dreaded journey to treat a disease that is said to be incurable. I have already had a pneumonectomy, which consisted of an operation to remove the lung that was infected. The recovery has been tough, but with the support of my family, I am getting through it.

The other treatments that I am facing are radiation and chemotherapy. I know that the side effects of these are said to be most unpleasant, but at this point, there really aren’t too many options. I continue to hope for a miracle and try not to let bitterness and anger fester over how this disease began in my body.

I find myself thinking of which day of work it was that I finally took in one too many deadly breaths that pushed my body into a deadly spiral towards this horrible disease. I try to fight these feelings, but sometime I just can’t help the thought of what was done to my body in the quest for profits and a better life for others.

I feel so betrayed. But, at least I am alive… That is more than can be said for many others in my position. I have the love and support of my caring wife and family, and the help of friends and associates. Each day is a struggle, but we are getting on.

And we will; until the very end.

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