Mesothelioma Patient Stories:
Second Generation Victim
A woman was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the relatively young age of 49. When she was initially diagnosed with lung problems, she feared the worst that it was the same asbestos-related cancer, called mesothelioma, that had taken her father only a few years earlier.
She remembers well her father coming home almost every night covered with white dust. He put his clothes in a hamper for her mother to clean. She didn't know at the time the dust was called asbestos. She tries hard to remember how often she and her siblings played with her father and in the hamper area right after he returned from work. She is now convinced that she contracted the disease from inhaling this asbestos dust brought home from her father's workplace. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause for mesothelioma.
Her father worked as an asbestos installer. For 27 years he worked for a private contractor in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area; 25 of these years were spent at the Naval Shipyards in Portsmouth installing asbestos insulation in Navy ships. In his workplace, there were clouds of asbestos dust constantly. Although the risks of asbestos were becoming known, no effort was made by his employers to provide respirators to protect the workers' lungs. Also, no shower or locker room was provided that could have kept the dangerous asbestos dust from leaving the workplace and being carried to the employees' loved ones. He died in September 1991.
As with many mesothelioma patients, her symptoms struck suddenly. While cleaning house, she had trouble drawing a deep breath. She drove herself to an urgent care facility where her lung problem was at first diagnosed as pneumonia. But after X-rays, a much worse problem was suspected and she was hospitalized. Doctors removed fluid from her right lung. A few days later physicians made a preliminary diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma.
Within a month she had to undergo surgery to remove part of her lung in hopes of eliminating the cancerous growth from the body. She recovered well from a nine-and-a-half-hour operation that completely removed her right lung, but the long term prospects are still unknown. After surgery, her worse fears were confirmed: She was positively diagnosed with malignant diffuse mesothelioma.
Although she worries about her mesothelioma and her prognosis, she is more concerned about her brother and sister, who also played near the hamper and with their father as he returned from work. Her own children may be at risk as well. They spent many nights in the home of their grandparents. She does not want her family to become three generations of mesothelioma victims.
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[Page updated January 2005]