Now more than ever, mesothelioma patients are surviving their diagnosis and living fulfilling lives. Read the stories below and find out how these patients overcame the odds and survived mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer and its diagnosis presents a dire outlook. Even so, advances in treatments have increased average life expectancy, and some patients have miraculously outlived their initial prognosis.
A few years ago, patients diagnosed with mesothelioma were expected to survive for less than a year. Now more and more patients are taking control of their diagnosis and seeking help from experienced mesothelioma specialists.
Patients are now living well past the average life expectancy and surviving to tell their stories of hope, togetherness and care.
Pleural mesothelioma, diagnosed in 2000
How Dorothea Survived:
Experiencing shortness of breath, Dorothea visited her doctor and received chest X-rays showing fluid buildup around her left lung. Despite being drained multiple times, the fluid returned. Her doctor performed a biopsy and subsequently diagnosed her with mesothelioma, giving her a maximum of 6 months to live.
Her oncologist referred her to Brigham and Women's Hospital, a top mesothelioma treatment center, for re-evaluation. After a doctor confirmed her diagnosis, she underwent surgery. Surgeons removed the lining of her left lung and reconstructed her diaphragm.
She remains active and manages her disease in her own way: cooking for her family and enjoying leisurely walks on her porch.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, diagnosed in 2007
How Alexis Survived:
Alexis lives in Houston and has survived mesothelioma for more than 6 years. She was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma after her surgeon, who was set to remove her gallbladder, noticed small, unidentified formations on her diaphragm. A biopsy confirmed a mesothelioma diagnosis, despite the fact that subsequent radiographic imaging tests showed no signs of the disease.
Thanks to surgery and heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), Alexis enjoys a significantly improved prognosis to this day.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, diagnosed in 2001
How Kendra Survived:
Kendra was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma after an initial misdiagnosis of ovarian cancer. A hysterectomy and subsequent pathology test confirmed her doctor’s suspicions regarding the origin of the ovarian cancer: metastasized peritoneal mesothelioma. She took control of her diagnosis, participating in clinical trials and undergoing extensive chemotherapeutic treatment, which was carried out by mesothelioma specialists in New York City.
Today she remains optimistic and looks forward to beating mesothelioma with the help of her team of specialists.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, diagnosed in 1996
How Sissy Survived:
Sissy is a special education teacher from Whitemarsh, Georgia who has survived her mesothelioma diagnosis for over 17 years. She attributes her medical success to advances in research and the comprehensive care she received from her team of mesothelioma specialists. She works with her specialists to proactively monitor her health by having annual checkups. She also regularly receives mammograms, pap smears, and blood pressure checks as preventative measures.
Sissy draws strength from the personal time she spends with her husband of 34 years, her daughters and her grandchildren. She also visits prayer groups on a regular basis and participates in marathons.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, diagnosed in 2003
How Louise Survived:
Louise was first diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2003, and again in 2009 with pleural.
She attributes her mesothelioma to frequent, second-hand asbestos exposure she endured as a child. Her father worked extensively with asbestos-containing materials and would unknowingly expose her and her siblings to dust on his work clothes. Louise was also exposed to asbestos when she would help her mother launder her father’s dusty work clothes.
She survives today as the voice of those who have lost their lives to asbestos-related diseases and continues to raise asbestos awareness as Vice President and coordinator on the Asbestos Diseases Society of Victoria in Australia.
Pleural mesothelioma, diagnosed in 2009
How Gaetano Survived:
Experiencing painful symptoms, Gaetano underwent an exploratory surgery in 2009, the result of which was misdiagnosed adenocarcinoma. His doctor performed more tests and returned with news of a mesothelioma diagnosis. With the help of renowned mesothelioma specialist Dr. David Sugarbaker, Gaetano flew to Boston in 2010 and received a pleurectomy, which resulted in the removal of his diaphragm and the lining surrounding his heart.
With the support of Josephine, his wife of 40 years, he has since fought through complications including infections, recurring wounds, and blood clots. Gaetano continues to survive with the support of his wife, children and families he met while receiving treatment for his mesothelioma.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, diagnosed in 2005
How Suellen Survived:
Suellen has survived with mesothelioma for 12 years. She was diagnosed after a visit to her general practitioner for a bothersome earache. After a series of tests and exploratory surgeries, she was diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. Her initial treatment involved surgery, which removed the parts of her peritoneum most affected by tumors. She then received both intravenous and intraperitoneal chemotherapy, consisting of Taxol, carboplatin and gemcitabine, to remove the remaining cancer. After many rounds of this multimodal approach, she started taking a daily dose of imatinib and underwent a few more rounds of post-surgical chemotherapeutic infusions.
Suellen currently serves on the boards of the Arizona Cancer Center and Western University College of Graduate Nursing.