Last November, at 53 years old, I was given 14 months to live. Thankfully my doctors here in Augusta – Vanessa Stewart, Randy Cooper and especially Mark Keaton – sent me to mesothelioma expert David Sugarbaker in Boston. There I was given a chance to live much longer with a radical surgery. They would remove a rib to get to and remove the pleura of my right lung, then wash the area with “heated chemotherapy” for about one hour.
I am nearing one year since my diagnosis. Six months since my operation. I am doing great with the help of family, friends and being on prayer lists across the country.
Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor of the lining of the lung, abdomen or heart known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. Medical experts consider it one of the most aggressive and deadly of cancers. About 3,500 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.
Mesothelioma is completely preventable. All we have to do is refuse to allow asbestos to be put in the products that we use every day. Today, asbestos still can be found in homes, schools and government buildings. It is present in about 35 million homes in the United States.
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating mesothelioma and easing the suffering caused by it. The foundation actively seeks philanthropic support to fund peer-reviewed mesothelioma research; provide patient support services and education; and advocate Congress for increased federal funding for mesothelioma research.
To date, the foundation has awarded more than $8.2 million directly to research, and has been instrumental in the Department of Defense’s award of another $8.8 million.
Voices spread awareness. This year the foundation’s campaign simply asks people to donate their social media statuses and give their voices to the victims of mesothelioma. Share this information on Facebook. Tweet it to your friends. Simply tell someone! The more voices we have talking about this disease, the more lives we can save.
Hopefully one day we will have a cure for mesothelioma, and no one will have to suffer as so many have. It all starts with awareness.