Monday, February 9, 2015

Mesothelioma, a Killer

Blogging is a constant unspooling of ideas and thoughts leading a reader to other writers with similar thoughts or maybe totally new ideas that challenge. The day I was lead to the blog of Heather Von St. James was both uplifting and heartbreaking. Her own battle with mesothelioma slam banged me right back to fifteen years ago when my dad died of the same disease.

In the fall of 1999 my dad’s recent health problems ratcheted up with first a trip to ER with strange heart attack-like symptoms and then a series of surgeries trying to find his real problem. One doctor thought he knew what his problem could be, but he was willing to let other surgeons search out other possibilities instead of facing the ugly truth.  The result was my dad was carved up like a Christmas turkey with no improvement. I will not rewrite the story here but you can read of my dad on Deidre VanGerven’s web page if you desire:

Mesothelioma is asbestos cancer. It was fairly new fifteen years ago. We could get little info. I learned a single strand of asbestos was smaller than a human hair, and yet it could stay in the body for twenty years before blowing into high and wide cancer eating away a human’s lungs or intestines. While searching for info I ran into Deidre VanGerven, a woman who lost her husband to this disease. She talked me through the next few months on email. She lived in New Zealand and many a night I was up sobbing to her about the pain of my dad’s situation. She understood. She is still online and if interested, you can learn more about her here:

Other things I learned at the time were that asbestos manufacturers sold asbestos even after they knew the damage it did. When the lawsuits started, they just disbanded the original companies and reformed new ones. It was business as usual. Asbestos was still being sold to Third World Countries.  I had to (and still have to) deal with a lot of anger that men in suits let their greed for money kill people.

A few weeks ago, I visited Heather’s blog and found a good ending to a mesothelioma story. She was 36 and with a new baby when she learned she had mesothelioma. She had fifteen months and that was eight years ago. Her blog is informative and hopeful; it is positive and faith-affirming. You can visit here:

Please acquaint yourself with this killer. Early detection now offers more hope than it once did. 

For more info on asbestos:


Elephant's Child said...

Oh good. I am really, really happy that you visited Heather's blog.
And share your anger (ballistic rage) at those who ignore safety for money's sake. Just so long as they hare safe...

Mary Horner said...

Sorry for your loss, glad her blog was able to help you. I love that writers are able to connect and share their stories so we don't feel so alone.

Linda O'Connell said...

I can feel the emotion in this post. I am so glad you had somebody to help you through. Yes, it is horrific, the suffering and the contaminators!

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Your anger and frustration vibrates here Claudia, as well it should. Thanks for the info and links, and I'm so sorry for your loss that didn't have to be.

Donna Volkenannt said...

Hi Claudia,
I've heard the TV commercials about asbestos and wondered about it. I'm sorry that's what took your dad's life, but pleased you found Heather's blog and that she is thriving.

Sioux said...

Claudia--I'm sorry your dad died such an unnecessary death. I imagine there are lots of instances like that--big corporations that continue unsafe practices or continue to produce unsafe products while they also continue to know the heartbreak they're creating.

Words are powerful. Words can heal. Words can be instruments of change...

Marylin Warner said...

Important information, Claudia.
I taught in a high school where the heavy stage drapes were lined in asbestos, and on the day one tore open during play rehearsal, the entire school was closed down for three days until a haz-mat team cleaned everything out. It was very frightening as the dangers of mesothelioma were just being shared.

My brother's good friend from the h.s. track team is dying of mesothelioma. He's shrunken down and in horrible breathing struggles and pain, but he's reached a peaceful and spiritual point in this part of us journey that is helping others. He'll be painfully missed.

I'm so sorry about your father, Claudia, and your friend, too. Thank you for posting this.