EDITORIAL BLOG/ GUEST POST
I am letting my guard down
Because I want to explain how you end up doing something that looks wrong -but feels right.
And how you realize that…
Everything is a matter of perspective, and mesothelioma changed my point of view regarding “wrong” and “right.”
But let’s start from the beginning.
When my father was diagnosed with mesothelioma, I helped the best way I knew how. Research was something I had always been good at. So, I went into a frantic quest for information, trying to find answers, looking for mesothelioma doctors, treatment options…
In the spirit of positive thinking, one of my siblings ordered copies of an excellent book: Anticancer, A New Way of Life, by David Servan-Schreiber.
I started reading it.
Mesothelioma is on page 17.
It´s in the chapter that discusses cancer statistics. It is featured as an example of a type of cancer with a bleak outlook.
8-months survival time after diagnosis*.
The core message of the chapter is that “statistics are information, not a condemnation.” Data is from the 80’s -though stats haven’t changed much since then-.
Even if the chapter’s goal is to put statistics into perspective-and probably not to give a definite opinion on the life expectancy of mesothelioma-, the only thing I could see was the survival rate graphic, the curve peaking at 8-months.
This is the kind of information that leaves you gasping for air. My dad was reading the book as well, and I can only imagine the horror he felt.
More about the Anticancer
If you are unfamiliar with the story of David Servan-Schreiber, it’s worthy to pause here and recap. A well-regarded French physician and neuroscientist, he discovered he had a brain tumor when he was doing a brain scan on himself. From then on, he put all his skills at work to find natural methods to prevent cancer, or support its treatment.
Servan-Schreiber underwent surgery, remission, and recurrence. His book became an international bestseller. Though some doctors question the scientific validity of his findings, he brought to light the importance of a holistic approach in the treatment of cancer.
The Anticancer is not a warranty. It is not a magic bullet. It may not work. It didn’t in the case of my dad. I am not discouraging or encouraging anyone to try it. I always understood that it may be unrealistic to expect lifestyle and dietary changes to work when you start practicing after you are diagnosed with late-stage mesothelioma.
Back to my dad
My dad underwent surgery, and as many rounds of chemo as his body could endure.
It was during his surgery recuperation period that the notion of asbestos claims started sinking in.
As I previously mentioned, I was the “researcher” of my family. From this, I learned that mesothelioma is caused by asbestos fibers. My dad, who worked in the construction industry since he graduated from college, had plenty of exposure.
Then I found out one of the most lacerating truths a mesothelioma patient and their families must confront:
That the asbestos industry knew about the dangers of asbestos and still put their employees at risk.
The shock of the mesothelioma diagnosis, the pain of not knowing how much time you have left, the surgeries, nausea, hospitals, the gut-wrenching fear… Losing your life. Facing a life without the moral support of your dad, or your wife or your husband… because of corporate greed?
That’s when you start to rethink good and right.
In my family, growing up, we always made fun of people who sued corporations. For sure they were out to get a quick buck. An easy paycheck.
Then you find yourself in the mesothelioma patient’s shoes. Then you read the stories of the town of Libby, Montana. Were the “good” employer, who gave work to most of the townspeople, was hiding the dangers of asbestos.
So, we were all brought up to be nice, decent people.
People who don’t want to wring money out of corporations because you “slipped” on “wet floors”.
Then you find out that some companies have actually harmed individuals in physical ways. Intentionally. By looking the other way when they were making a profit. And you stop making quote gestures when you talk about victims because, you realize, there may be another side to the story. A side that is harder to accept that the one you believed until then.
When a loved one is struck with mesothelioma, you realize what seeking compensation is all about. It is something more important than money. Because really, what amount of money could restitute a life? It is about asking corporations to take responsibility.
That’s why we discussed the possibility of going forward with an asbestos claim with my dad. We found a mesothelioma attorney to help us with that. We knew that in the past, taking the compensation path would have looked so wrong in our owns eyes. But now it felt so right.
Diets did little for my dad. Treatment helped only for so long.
Filing an asbestos claim was one of the few empowering moments during his journey. The suit was filed against the corporation that created the asbestos products my dad was exposed to. We have talked to other asbestos victims who describe feeling the same release and vindication after filing.
My dad has since passed. So has Servan-Schreiber -19 years after his initial brain cancer diagnosis.- I remember feeling so irritated when people on Internet forums mocked the scientist’s death: How come he was not able to save himself?
He did pass away. But he gave it a good fight. And in a different way, so did my dad, and hundreds of other asbestos claimants.