Advocate of the Month – October 2014 logo

The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance would like to thank Melinda for contributing as October’s Advocate of the Month. Melinda, who writes on her blog The Discerning Reader, shares the story of how mesothelioma took her mother’s life and affected her own.

MCA: Tell us a little about your experience with mesothelioma.

Melinda: My experience with mesothelioma was nonexistent until its unwanted presence invaded my mother’s body, tearing my family to shreds. Never even heard of this ugly form of cancer until it was on our doorstep. A rare form of cancer rumbling in like a monsoon.

MCA: Has cancer affected you in some way? If so, in what way? Tell us about your experience.

Melinda: Cancer has affected my life considerably. I have been robbed of loved ones from this horrific monster. I have witnessed its destruction, I have had to face its emotional wreckage pre- and post-devastation. My mettle has been tested too many times as well as those closest to me. It is by far my enemy.

The toughest trial I have faced was watching my mother succumb to mesothelioma. She was taken in 6 short months after fighting like crazy to no avail. Her life ended far too soon, her body ravaged by this beast. It was painful to watch her slip away each day. I was rendered helpless.

My mother carried herself with utmost grace and poise. Her courage still leaves me speechless. She faced mesothelioma head on with every fiber of her being. My mother was the quintessential optimist. She dived in determined to beat cancer. She did radiation and chemo but it still held its relentless grip. When she went in for her check-up to see how the radiation and chemo were progressing she was devastated to learn she was terminal. All efforts were terminated and she was handed her death sentence. I will never forget the look on her face. She was certain the radiation and chemo were successful. She was shocked by the news and thus began her downward momentum into the sickening arms of mesothelioma. Cancer steals the life out of not only the victim but of the loved ones as well.

MCA: What are the two biggest things you learned through this experience?

Melinda: The latency period is 20 to 50 years which I found shocking. It’s absurd this beast lurks for this length of time stealthily festering. I was stunned.

Also the survival rate is dismal. Anyone knowing or suspecting exposure to asbestos PLEASE see a physician immediately.

MCA: If you could say one thing to the world about cancer or mesothelioma specifically, what would it be?

Melinda: It is a shame the wickedness of asbestos was discovered after putting so many people in harms way. I certainly hope with today’s technology and the harsh lessons of the past that materials will be scrutinized for potential lethal repercussions. Mesothelioma is one ugly monster. My heart breaks for those dealing with this form of cancer and for those suffering the loss of a loved one, I know your pain and devastation.

Let’s hope we learned through the many mistakes made with asbestos. History should not be repeated.