Keeping the Faith While Living with Mesothelioma
My story of being diagnosed and living with mesothelioma is a sad one, but it is also a story of faith and recovery. I have had to live with this terrible illness, but I have also done so with hope and with faith in my ability to recover and still enjoy life while undergoing treatments to keep the cancer under control. The worst thing about my story is that my illness could have been prevented, and that is one reason I keep telling it to the world.
A Life of Work
I have worked nearly all my life. Growing up in small town West Virginia, we didn’t have much but we were proud to work hard. As soon as I was old enough to do so, I found work to help my family. My father had died after working in the coal mines, but we had faith in the fact that we could support each other after his passing. I began working in high school in demolition. It was hard, but rewarding work, tearing down old buildings to make way for the new.
Later, I got into more specialized work that I really enjoyed: working with cars. I eventually got the training and experience needed to become a mechanic and I worked with all aspects of cars, doing repairs, replacing the clutch components, and breaks and replacing and fixing other parts.
What I didn’t realize was that, while I was earning a living most of the jobs I held exposed me to asbestos. I also didn’t know what asbestos was or what the dust from it was doing to the inside of my body. While I worked, I was inhaling the fibers from the old buildings I demolished and the car parts I worked on, and those fibers damaged me.
Mesothelioma is an insidious disease and it doesn’t show itself until years after being exposed to asbestos, so I got sick when I was about 50. First I started having respiratory symptoms, like a really bad cough and chest pains. I have always been active, but suddenly I got short of breath just from walking. I went to the hospital and was diagnosed with pneumonia, but the antibiotics didn’t help. Eventually I got the right diagnosis, and I knew I had a terrible cancer to battle.
Faith Carried me through Treatment
I was so devastated to find out that I was this sick, that I had to fight this aggressive cancer. At many times, I wanted to give up, and I lost faith. I had to remember my faith and my family were there for me. Faith and my Family have been two of the most important things that have helped me get through this health crisis.
Even when I was tempted to give up, faith kept me going and I fought as much as I could. Knowing that I couldn’t afford the expensive treatment that is needed for beating mesothelioma, I looked for resources and help. I was able to get assistance from the National Cancer Institute and treatment with a specialist through the organization.
I live with mesothelioma now, but I am recovering from the damage of chemotherapy that is helping extend my life. With the love of family, the treatment of specialists in the field, and most importantly with my own faith I am surviving and fighting back. By telling my story I hope to inspire others, first to be proactive against asbestos and mesothelioma, but also to rely on faith to get through a difficult illness like I have.