Advocate of the Month – March 2014 logo

The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance would like to thank Cheree Elizabeth for sharing her personal story about how mesothelioma affected her grandfather, as well as sharing her own cancer journey, as the March Advocate of the Month. Please share Cheree’s story and her message of living a clean lifestyle free of toxins like asbestos.

As a natural blogger, I write about a lot of ideas that I am passionate about and that are close to my heart. I am honored to be invited as the March Advocate of the month for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. I am passionate about all forms of cancer awareness and I am happy to be spreading awareness of mesothelioma cancer, because it has affected my family.

First, let me tell you I have not personally had mesothelioma but I am a cancer survivor– I survived Hodgkin lymphoma. To be alive after such an ordeal is amazing to me, but it also makes me feel so much compassion for anyone fighting any type of cancer, and I weep for those who do not win the battle.

My own cancer battle came years after my family was affected by mesothelioma. I was young and healthy when mesothelioma entered my life by striking my grandfather. That was in the early 90’s and I must admit the name mesothelioma was never used when we were told he had asbestos lung cancer. If the name mesothelioma was mentioned, I never heard it and I was with him a lot.

My grandfather was an electrician in Florida and went from a hardworking man to needing hospice care in a very short time. His asbestos exposure was due to his work somehow, but he also did side jobs so it may not have been actual electrical work that exposed him. I was holding my grandfather’s hand when we heard his diagnosis and I decided right then to be there for him. I was only 21 at the time, but I loved him and he was my rock. In so many ways, his struggle to survive had a big bearing on my life and my own survival.

After learning of his diagnosis, my grandfather did get a tube into his lung to drain it, but, by the time he was diagnosed, the doctors said treatment would not work. My grandfather was given 4 to 6 months to live and he lived almost 6 months. I watched him as he suffered and I helped care for him. I know first-hand the effect mesothelioma or cancer of any form has on family members.

My own cancer battle came 20 years after my grandfather’s battle and strengthened me to share the vast knowledge I have of living a clean life and eating well, as well as avoiding toxins like asbestos. Yes, my own personal battle had nothing to do with the dangers of asbestos, but it did bring me full circle back to the realization and understanding that my family was suffering just as we had back then when my grandfather had cancer. I discovered being the sick person in the hospital bed is far easier than watching the person with cancer suffer. So, with me having that knowledge, I did everything I could to lessen what my own family went through– that meant laughing when I did not feel like it and encouraging others. All of this kept me going.

We can all educate ourselves to avoid toxins in our life, including asbestos, and hopefully reduce the chances of going from a healthy person to a person with cancer. I think that is probably what you can read about on my blog the most– avoiding toxins and having a healthy life. Also check out the MCA’s page supporting Asbestos Awareness Week and help spread the word about the dangers of asbestos and asbestos exposure. So please be aware of toxins in your life, learn about ways to avoid asbestos exposure, and have a long healthy life with your loved ones.