It is my pleasure to be an information platform for the cancer community. Mike Postorino, Public Outreach, The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com, contacted me asking if I might showcase mesothelioma and the growing list of survivors.
Not too far from where I live is a small community in the northwest corner of Montana. I am aware of this deadly cancer because this community has been gravely affected by mesothelioma and other cancer-related diseases from mining.
“Libby, Montana, is the story of a town discovering and then coping with toxic vermiculite mines that supplied jobs to more than 200 residents and helped Libby prosper for decades. Libby residents have suffered with asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, but their story is ongoing. Victims continue to surface. And there are Libby residents who realize they, too, may be in danger. . .”
Not only are Libby residents faced with a possible diagnose with this disease, many other small communities throughout the United States have been exposed to this deadly dust. And interestingly enough, some survivors were not in direct contact with asbestos dust but were indirectly exposed, the “take-home exposure.”
The Wall of Hope has many testimonials about those who have survived this very threatening and often terminal cancer.
Even With a Diagnosis of Mesothelioma, There Is Hope
A diagnosis of mesothelioma cancer used to come almost automatically with a grim prognosis.
Things are changing slowly for this complex cancer that is caused almost exclusively from an exposure to asbestos fibers, usually affecting the thin membrane surrounding the lungs and other vital organs.
The list of survivors, and their incredible stories of hope, is growing longer now.
There still is no proven cure, but advances in earlier diagnosis, genetic therapies and vastly improved treatment options have at least given patients a fighting chance against this horrible disease.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer – an estimated 3,000 Americans are diagnosed each year – and its symptoms often mask those of less serious illnesses, making it critical to see a physician who is experienced with the disease, and a treatment center that can provide a multifaceted approach to therapy.
Because there is such a long latency period – often 10 to 50 years between initial asbestos exposure and obvious symptoms – too often the cancer has spread extensively before it is discovered. As late as just a few years ago, the prognosis typically was 6-18 months to live.
Today there are mesothelioma survivors who have lived two, three, four and more than five years with the disease, finding ways to slow the growth. The Mesothelioma Center has a Wall of Hope that details some interesting cases.
There are people like Angela Winsor in Michigan, who is beginning her second year with the disease, helped by a clinical trial and treatment at the University of Michigan Cancer Center.
Although she was not a candidate for surgery – the disease already had spread too far – she has returned to her job as the chief operating officer for a small workforce development company. A supportive family, her work at church, and the belief in God’s plan, has allowed her to battle the cancer.
There is Bob Oberstar, retired and living in upstate Wisconsin seven years after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He has refused to give up many of his outdoor pleasures after undergoing aggressive surgery to remove the lining around his one lung, and he opted against the chemotherapy/radiation treatments because of the side effects he wanted to avoid. He already has fought off prostate cancer.
David Cutts, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, is in his sixth year with mesothelioma. He, too, had an aggressive surgery that removed one of his lungs, but has allowed him to continue living the retirement lifestyle in New Jersey.
“I’ve already beaten the odds,” Cutts told the Mesothelioma Center. “It’s important that people who get this diagnosis understand that there still is hope out there if you find the right place.”
Bio: Tim Povtak is a senior writer at the Mesothelioma Center. He is a former award-winning journalist for a metropolitan newspaper.
Asbestos.com is an informative site for education and services regarding mesothelioma. There are many recognized treatment centers and hospitals throughout the nation giving hope to those who once had no hope.
Cancer research moves forward at an astounding pace. “You have cancer” used to mean “terminal”. With today’s progressive research and treatment developments, that phrase is no longer a death warrant. Mike and I agree, along with many other thousands effected by cancer, may funding for research and development continue giving us the hope in living a long and productive life!