Mesothelioma Patient Stories:
By Lorraine Kember
He was only a child when it begun
And he played as children do
In his yard with his toy cars and tip trucks
But his sand was asbestos blue…
In December 1999, my husband and I were walking home from a game of lawn bowls when I became aware of his shortness of breath. I was surprised and concerned when he told me that he had experienced this on several occasions. Believing this to be due to chest a infection, I made a doctor's appointment for him the next day.
Chest X-rays revealed fluid on the lungs, over two litres of which was drained, giving Brian immediate relief, but it was a tense wait for the pathology results. Through the Internet I had become aware of several conditions which may have been responsible for fluid on the lung; these included asbestos-related diseases. Brian had lived in Wittenoom as a child and I was afraid of his diagnosis; I prayed that he had pleurisy or pneumonia but the pathology results revealed that there were mesothelioma cancer cells present.
When Brian finally received his diagnosis, my worst nightmare became reality. He had pleural mesothelioma, a terminal cancer of the lung caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust. We found it inconceivable that the disease was the result of Brian inhaling asbestos dust as a child and that it had lain dormant for forty-five years before becoming lethal.
Throughout the course of our married life my deep love for Brian and my determination to resolve difficulties had seen us through many trials. I found it hard to believe that nothing could be done to save his life and begun surfing the Internet for information regarding mesothelioma, all the time praying for a miracle, hoping against hope to find a doctor who had successfully operated on or cured someone of it.
It was a sad realization to discover that for Brian there were no miracles; however, I learned a lot and it helped me to accept that he was dying. With my acceptance came a fierce determination to ease his burden. I continued to seek information regarding mesothelioma and the pain and symptoms Brian would experience, due to the progression of his disease. In this way, I came to understand the importance of pain management and symptom control and realized that although I could not stop Brian from dying - I could help him to live.
Together, we achieved for Brian, a quality of life few thought possible considering the nature of his disease. Testament to this, despite his prognosis of three to nine months, Brian survived for 2 years, remained active and alert, drove his car for eighteen months after diagnosis and was not bed bound until three short days prior to his death.
Brian's courageous battle with mesothelioma came to an end on the 24th December 2001; he passed away at home surrounded by his loved ones. He was 54 years old.
This article was written by: Lorraine Kember - Author of "Lean on Me" Cancer through a Carer's Eyes. Lorraine's book is written from her experience of caring for her dying husband in the hope of helping others. It includes insight Pain Management and Symptom Control plus excerpts and poems from her personal diary. Highly recommended by the Cancer Council. "Lean on Me" is not available in bookstores - For detailed information, Doctor's recommendations, Reviews, Book Excerpts and Ordering Facility - visit her website http://www.cancerthroughacarerseyes.jkwh.com
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[Page updated July 2005]