Each spring a Memorial Service is held for families that have lost loved ones to mesothelioma. It never gets any easier to see the personal toll that this deadly cancer has taken. Remembering patients and families that have dealt with the death of a loved one from mesothelioma is sobering. Every year a member of the mesothelioma medical team talks about the progress that continues to be made toward a cure. Although not fast enough for these families and loved ones, the update always helps everyone in attendance, by offering hope. Hope that no other patients and families will have to go through what they have been through and suffer the losses that they have.
The service is a testimony to the generosity of the human spirit. Although their loved ones are gone, the families and loved ones are their representatives on earth. By putting a face to the patient, and showing the whole picture of the victims of this disease, researchers can take this snapshot of their relatives back to the lab with them for inspiration in the coming year. Each year there is progress to report and each year there is appreciation for the continuous support of these brave families, and continued support of the work needed for a cure.
There is a lot of ambivalence about attending a memorial service like this. From our experiences over the years, when the service is over families feel better. By acknowledgment that their loved one’s fight is over, and that they have potentially helped other patients in the future, does provide some comfort for the families. For some it is difficult to come back to a place that holds painful memories.
One family member acknowledging that she almost did not come, spoke of coming back to a place that had offered her and her family hope when they could not find it anywhere else. Although her family member had died, she was grateful for the quality time they did have together.
The reasons for attending are as varied as the patients. Stories and memories are shared, and a grateful community leans on each other to continue on to a day when there will be no need for an annual Memorial Service for mesothelioma patients.