Day 11

Facts about Mesothelioma

  • Very aggressive form of cancer caused solely by asbestos exposure
  • Cancer usually develops 20 to 40 years after asbestos exposure
  • A lot of people confuse this with lung cancer. Mesothelioma actually is a cancer a of the pleura or tissue that is the lining outside of the lungs. It is the tissue that separates your lungs from your other organs.
  • Symptoms:
    • Chest pain, usually under the rib cage
    • Dry cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Unexplained pleural effusion (which is the build up of fluid between the pleura lining and the lung itself)
  • Chest x-rays and CT scans can show an issue, however, the only way to diagnosis mesothelioma is with a biopsy.
  • There are three types of mesothelioma:
    • Epithelial cells (50 to 70% of all mesothelioma are this kind. This form is treatable.
    • Sarcomatoid (about 10 % of all mesothelioma cases) very rare and aggressive. Currently no cure or treatment for this form.
    • Biphasic which has characteristics of both epithelial and sarcomoatoid. Accounts for about 20% of the cases of messthelioma and has the possibility of treatment.
  • 95% if people diagnosed with mesothelioma are over the age of 65;  77 is the median age for people with mesothelioma.
  • There are about 3,000 diagnosis a year in the United States of mesothelioma.  Less than 300 people a year are diagnosed with the form of mesothelioma that I have, sarcomatoid mesothelioma.

Day 10

"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." - Desmond Tutu

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Day 9

"We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves." - Thomas Merton

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Day 8

"You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear." - Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Day 7

"A quilt is a patchwork of memories, sewn together with threads of love and is the closest thing that you will find to the hug from your mother." - Chris Smith

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Day 6

"The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath....these are parts of the banquet of life." - Rebecca Harding Davis

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Day 5

"Lost time is never found again." - Benjamin Franklin

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Day 4

"It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody." - Maya Angelou

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Day 3

"For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day." (2 Corinthians 4:16 GNT)

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Day 2

"And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so? I did. And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.” - Raymond Carver

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Day 1

"Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul." - Jim Valvano

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The beginning of my battle with cancer

In early September 2014, I started having sharp pains on my left side. They kept growing in intensity. I went to my doctor and she sent me to have a CT scan. It turned out I had a pleural effusion of the left lung, which is fluid built up between the chest cavity lining (pleural tissue) and the lung. I was sent to see a pulmonologist and he scheduled a procedure where they put a catheter in my back and pulled out 2 litters of fluid. My pulmonologist explained that it was very unusual to have that much fluid built up and that was just a symptom of something major happening in my body.

They then started running a lot of tests to try and determine what caused the fluid. I was tested for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, lyme’s disease, HIV, pneumonia, COPD…everything came back negative. The only thing they couldn’t rule out was cancer.

The pain on my left side continued to get worse and I developed a chronic dry cough, I started to get short of breath easily and I lost a lot of weight, dropping from 205 lbs to 145 lbs in less than a year.

Later scans showed hardening of the lower pleural tissue of my left lung. My pulmonologist at Duke scheduled me with a surgeon that specialized in a surgical procedure to try and remove this hardened tissue. During that surgery, they didn’t remove the tissue, but instead took samples for biopsies. They sent the tissue to the Duke Lab and they determined it was cancer. Duke then sent my biopsy tissue to the Mayo Clinic and they both confirmed the same diagnosis.

I have been diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of sarcomatoid mesothelioma cancer. There is no treatment or cure for this form of cancer. Follow my daily blog posts about battling this cancer and the journey of how to live life to the fullest with what time we have.