Survivor Insight Series | Suzy F.
- Stories from Survivors
- June 20, 2012
How old were you when you first heard about mesothelioma? For some it could be in our adulthood, but some learn about it at a much younger age. It has impacted all of us in different ways. Suzy F. is no exception. She was just a child when she learned about mesothelioma cancer.
She tells us her story on how mesothelioma has affected her family. And how her family is staying involved in the community. Her last name is being withheld over privacy concerns
My grandfather was an amazing man. He was a WWII veteran who served his time in the Navy on a ship in the Philippines. He was an old fashion Italian who put his family first and everything else second. He was a diehard Yankees fan and he loved playing golf and cards on the weekends. In the 1930s he worked at a local Factory where they mixed asbestos to make gaskets. He was also exposed to asbestos while he was in the Navy and while he worked at another factory after the war.
I am not sure of the year that my grandfather was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, but he went through chemo, radiation, and different shots that they hoped would stop the cancer. They succeeded in slowing down the cancer, but unfortunately, as everyone who knows about Mesothelioma knows; nothing could be done to cure him. The doctors originally gave him six months to live but he ended up surpassing that by a few years.
On Father’s Day, June 15 of 2003, he began to rapidly decline to the point where he couldn’t even manage to live in his own home with his girlfriend of 15 years. My grandfather was a very strong and independent man. For him to admit that he could no longer fight this disease on his own was a huge thing. My father made the only decision that any devoted son would make and moved him into our house. My mother is a nurse and everyone thought it would be easier for my grandpa to get around the clock care at our home.
I come from a large Italian family and every day there were different relatives at the house, some staying the night, some staying for days. My sister and I were 11 and 9 at the time and would go to school every day praying that grandpa would still be there when we got home. It was hard on the whole family because some days, such as Father’s day that year, Grandpa was up watching the Yankees game and eating hotdogs with his grandkids, other days he slept all day and would only nod when we talked to him. About two days before he died, my grandfather had gotten to the point that he was in so much pain and he was so tired that he became unresponsive. Two days later on June 23. 2003 he went into heart failure. A visiting nurse came to the house around 5 p.m. that day and said that he only had about 24 hours to live. An hour and 50 minutes later my grandfather briefly woke up, opened his eyes, looked around his bedroom at his family, and took his last breath. He died at 6:50 p.m. on June 23, 2003.
Ever since then my family has been involved in different fundraising activities for cancer charities. This past December my father was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Although not related to asbestos exposure, it hit home for my sisters’ and I that we needed to get even more involved in fundraising for cancer research. So this upcoming Saturday June 23, nine years since my grandfather passed, my family and I will be participating in our local Relay for Life. I would like to humbly ask anyone who can afford to, to donate. Even the smallest amounts will make an impact!
My family and I believe that it is our duty to do all we can. We feel that if a cancer patient can be dealt this kind of pain then we all can spend a few hours walking, or donate a few dollars to help stop cancer!! Thank you all for your time and God Bless!!
Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His specialty is interviewing top mesothelioma specialists and researchers, reporting the latest news at mesothelioma cancer centers and talking with survivors and caregivers.