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.

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.

Don With Jennifer
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 benefitted 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: