A Mesothelioma Victim’s Daughter Answers the Question, “What Is Mesothelioma?”

Don Smitley and Jennifer Gelsick

“But what is mesothelioma?” This question usually follows when I tell people how my Dad passed away or why I’m fundraising. I then go into what causes it, the treatments Dad went through… the “science” of the disease. Most of the time, people nod their heads and go on with their day. But they don’t know the part about what mesothelioma really is to those who live it.

Mesothelioma is a thief, I’ve said this before. It steals your loved ones, their quality of life, and their comfort. In the last five years, I have seen so many people lose parents, spouses, and friends from this cancer. I, myself, have lost people that I care about to mesothelioma that I have gotten to know through being a part of this community.

Mesothelioma is a way of life. Unfortunately, when you are struck with this diagnosis, it consumes every part of you. Patients are constantly seeing doctors, receiving treatment, and thinking about the fact that they have mesothelioma. Caregivers are always looking for ways to help their loved one. And the truth of the matter is, for me, those three months between Dad’s scans were always torturous. You never knew what would be around the next corner. It truly takes precedence over every other aspect of your life.

Mesothelioma is unforgiving, unapologetic, and does not discriminate. I have known very young people and the elderly who have been stricken with this cancer. It doesn’t care who you are or what you do. It can’t be bothered by the fact that you have a family who you love and who needs you. It simply takes.

Mesothelioma is, in fact, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, but it is so much more. This disease has changed my life and the lives of countless others in ways that we never could have imagined.

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