Survivor Insight Series | 18 Months to Live by Rachele Baker: Part 1

Stories from Survivors

Written by Ben Leer

Reading Time: 4 mins
Publication Date: 01/30/2013
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Reviewed is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us


My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family.
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating

How to Cite’s Article


Leer, B. (2022, September 26). Survivor Insight Series | 18 Months to Live by Rachele Baker: Part 1. Retrieved June 8, 2023, from


Leer, Ben. "Survivor Insight Series | 18 Months to Live by Rachele Baker: Part 1.", 26 Sep 2022,


Leer, Ben. "Survivor Insight Series | 18 Months to Live by Rachele Baker: Part 1." Last modified September 26, 2022.

It wasn’t just another day cleaning the garage when Rachele Baker came across some old memories. These were memories from her mother’s journal that had been stowed away.

The journal detailed every bit of her battle with mesothelioma.

Rachele made a choice to share her mother’s experiences with everyone else affected by the cancer-causing mineral asbestos by publishing the journal under the title, “Eighteen Months to Live.” We want to thank her for sharing the journey with the rest of the mesothelioma community.

What made you want to re-read your mothers journal?

I keep a large box of memorabilia in my garage. The box contains some things from my childhood and a lot of drawings, notes and writings from my daughter when she was young. I hadn’t opened my box of memorabilia in a long time. One day when I was going through the garage organizing and cleaning, I decided to look in my memorabilia box. My mother’s handwritten journal was very prominent in the box because she kept it in a bright orange binder. In addition to my mother’s journal, I found a large stack of letters that she had written me during her final months of life. I hadn’t looked at my mother’s journal since immediately after her death. I started reading my mother’s journal for the second time and I realized that this was something valuable that should be shared with others.

What was your reaction to the diagnosis?

I had never heard of mesothelioma before and I did not really understand it. It did not seem real to me that my mother was going to die.

How was your mother exposed to asbestos?

My mother’s first husband worked for Johns Manville in California bagging asbestos. My mother washed his work clothes.

Midge Rylander Mesothelioma PatientWhat was your goal when you decided to publish this book?  

I wrote this book to love and honor my mother as well as to honor her wish that her journal be published so that her experiences could help others.

What is the mesothelioma community’s reaction to your book?

A lovely women, Sue, wrote a very nice review about it; “Brilliant. Moving. Helpful. As the wife of a mesothelioma sufferer, I found this book to be very helpful. It also gave my husband ideas about coping with pain. Very touching.”

What were some of your biggest questions after hearing about your mother’s diagnosis?

I wanted to know if everything was being done that could be done to help my mother and possibly save or prolong her life. I wanted my mother to get a second opinion, but she decided she did not feel that was necessary.

Have you become more involved in the mesothelioma community?

Yes. I have written about my mother’s experience and her journal has been published on some online sites designed for mesothelioma victims and their families. 

What advice would you give to someone who has just received a diagnosis of mesothelioma?

Talk to several oncologists before choosing one to be your primary doctor. Make sure they are experienced in dealing with mesothelioma patients. Discuss your diagnosis and potential treatment plans with each doctor. Talk to other mesothelioma patients to get recommendations for good doctors. Go on the Internet and research different doctors. Find a doctor that you are very comfortable with and that you feel will give you the best care possible.

Read everything you can about mesothelioma and the various treatment options. Talk to other mesothelioma patients in online forums. Take advantage of online and/or in-person support groups. Take really good care of yourself and your body. Take time to enjoy your life as much as you can. Make sure you have at least one support person that you can really count on to help you when you need it.

Part 2: Survivor Insight Series Continued with Rachele Baker.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for further discussion about this book and your mesothelioma experiences. 

open book icon vector illustration
Free Mesothelioma Guide
Get Answers to All Your Mesothelioma Questions