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Don Smitley

Try to keep a positive attitude – it can always be worse.

April 25, 1956 – October 15, 2013

Fought Mesothelioma with a Positive Attitude, Faith & Family


Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I can’t handle together.

Don Smitley

Don Smitley, whose life with mesothelioma was recounted through his daughter’s eyes in her Faces of Mesothelioma blog, lost his battle to the cancer in October 2013.

Remembering Don Smitley

Smitley, who was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in January 2012, inspired so many with his positive, laid back attitude.

Smitley underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation in an effort to halt the growth of the cancer, but in between his treatments he made sure to enjoy his life.

He continued singing and playing the guitar with his other band members in The Dunbar Boys, taking walks with his dog, Charley, and mostly he enjoyed spending time with his wife, Judy, and daughter, Jennifer.

Jennifer Gelsick

Our faith in God, each other, and ourselves, has been challenged, but always reaffirmed throughout this road. It’s definitely not easy, but together with God’s help, we can get through anything.

Don’s Daughter & Staff writer at Mesothelioma Help Cancer Organization.
Jennifer Gelsick

Don tried not to let mesothelioma define him, or dictate how he would live his life. And, he also did not dwell on the fact that he was battling cancer. “It is too easy to worry about whether the cancer will come back,” Don said. So he always tried to keep himself busy, and recommended others faced with an uncertain future do the same.

“Keep yourself busy. Get out and talk to people. Walk around the mall, or just do something that keeps your mind from thinking about what could happen.”

Although most people believe that there is nothing good about fighting mesothelioma, the Smitley’s believe that Don’s fight happened for a reason. Ultimately, Jennifer and her father hoped that through

his fight someone else might learn something or simply be inspired by their hope and faith.

Don Smitley and his family benefited from the support and guidance of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, and his family wants to give back to the organization that helped ease some of their burden. With the help of Jennifer Gelsick, who has been chronicling her family’s experiences on the MesotheliomaHelp blog, the Smitleys have established a fundraising page for the Meso Foundation. To help the fight against mesothelioma, please make a personal donation through the Smitleys’ fundraising page:

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