daddyI was contacted recently (actually, while on vacation!!) by Cameron Von St. James. He asked if I would write a post about Mesothelioma . . .at first, I figured his email was some sort of SPAM (I get a lot of that from my blog!!!!). I asked my daughter-in-law to read the email and she said it seemed legit. I googled "Heather Von St. James" and found out that she is evidently a real person. Here she is with her husband and daughter. She is a mesothelioma survivor. You can read about her here.
According to Heather's page, every year 3,000 people are diagnosed with Mesothelioma - a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. They are given an average of 10 months to live . . .that is 300 days . . .7200 hours.
My daddy died when I was 25 years old . . .according to my oldest sister, he died of Mesothelioma. To be honest, I was in that "self-absorbed" stage of life. I remember sitting in the hospital waiting room with other families . . .I remember his oxygen tank. I remember how he "rested" on the sofa under a giant photo of Bear Bryant (yes, he was a die hard Alabama fan!). I remember the day he died as if were yesterday. I actually remember driving home from work after receiving the call. I am 56 years old and I still miss him. It was not a pretty disease - no disease is pretty - but this was just downright mean.
I was shocked to read some of the statistics. Did you know?
On average, 30 million pounds of asbestos are still being used in the United States today. The substance can still be found in many homes, schools, and commercial or industrial buildings. Even 30 years after the peak of its use, asbestos still remains as the number one cause of occupational cancer in the United States!
Of course, I've heard all about asbestos abatement (or however they say it!). A good many years ago, we had to have work done on our church and there was asbestos. They had to seal off that part of the building and people in moon suits did the work of removing the asbestos. I know that the removal of asbestos adds a tremendous amount to the cost of a project.
IT KILLS PEOPLE, TOO. I remember the doctor comparing Mesothelioma to a pearl . . .starts off as an irritant and grows into not a pearl but a cancer.
Daddy was already sick when this picture was snapped. I'm on the right - look at those smokey eyes! Becky is on his left.
We have no idea why daddy had mesothelioma . . .he was in the navy - could have been exposed then. Heather's page has this fact: Navy Veterans are at the greatest risk to develop mesothelioma as asbestos was widely used in Naval ships and shipyards.
He worked in construction for many years - definitely could have been exposed then. He was an engineer for the railroad - there is no telling what he hauled on his trains over the years. We lived in a small town with several factories belching out their waste every day. I've been told that at times, ash like substance would cover the cars, etc.
I remember Daddy begging the doctor to "just remove my lung" . . .and the doctor's reply . . .not possible. I do know that the long term survivors usually have surgery. Daddy was at UAB in Birmingham, Alabama and received cutting edge treatment. He received radiation treatments but refused chemo. You have to understand that he had watched my momma go through chemo about ten years prior. All of the treatments back then were experimental. There were no anti-nausea drugs. Let me tell you . . .I know that chemo is poison now . . .but oh my goodness, it was poison back then, too. I've never seen anyone as sick as my momma was after her treatments. I still freak out when someone vomits - even after all these years.
So . . .what can you do? spread the word! We need to find a cure!
I miss my daddy. You would have liked him. He was a great man. He died way too young!