Diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in October 2011, Mike T. knew immediately where he had been exposed to asbestos.
While working for Telecom back in 1977, he had spent many hours in installation pits, drilling holes in the asbestos sheeting for the cables to pass through.
The symptom that prompted Mike’s visit to the doctor on that fateful day was a lump in his chest that appeared to be growing.
Mike had been aware of the lump for more than a year, but had not been concerned, due to his belief that the lump was a coagulated cyst, caused by the two pleurodesis procedures he underwent in 2009, after he broke a rib and punctured a lung during a bout of martial arts.
Mike, 59, and his family live in the beautiful Australian city of Cairns, located on the northeast coast of Australia in the state of Queensland. They have been in the area for more than 20 years and love the lifestyle. His last name is being withheld over privacy concerns.
A keen fisherman when he gets the chance, Mike also loves a good feed of mud crabs and reckons that these are about as good as it gets.
Following Mike’s mesothelioma diagnosis, he was told by his physician that he could look forward to 10 to 12 years. (Many pleural patients get 10 to 12 months.)
Mike’s mesothelioma treatment began with a week’s course of radiation to stop the growth of the cancer, which had spread up the needle track following his biopsy. This was followed by 18 sessions of Alimta and Cisplatin chemotherapy, which ended in May 2012.
Since then, Mike has had no further medical treatment for his mesothelioma. Despite this, his regular CT scans indicate that his tumor is continuing to shrink, which is wonderful news and, according to Mike’s physician, pretty remarkable.
Asked how his wife and family are coping with his disease, Mike says that for the first few months following his diagnosis it was an emotional roller coaster for them all, and was a pretty tough time.
Things have definitely improved since then, and the good news about the tumor shrinking has given everyone hope.
“My wife and family are an incredible support for me,” Mike says. “Even my extended family keeps in touch regularly by phone or email to see if I am OK.”
Mike’s friends have been pretty amazing, too. He was blown away by the Cruise Benefit one of his friends held in his honor. Nearly 150 people turned up for the cruise, which generated $12,500 for Mike and his family.
“The love of family and friends is what really matters,” Mike says. “This is what gives me those warm and fuzzy feelings that keep me going.”
Mike’s pets also contribute to the warm and fuzzies. His two little dogs are always waiting to greet him, and their boisterous antics make him laugh. Attention given to them has to be shared with Mike’s pet chook (chicken), Penny, a Chinese Silkie who loves to be petted and has made it to the ripe old age of 12.
“I am confident of beating this insidious intrusion in my body by self-generated enthusiasm and always positive thoughts,” Mike says.
He has been retired for a good many years, but believes he is busier now than he ever was when he was working full time — and this is just the way he likes it.
He is involved in a business venture in the Torres Strait, involving the exportation of portable mobile masonry block machines, which make it possible to make bricks on the spot. Other projects on the go are the exportation of jute (hessian) bags and live mud crabs.
These projects are not the only thing that keeps Mike busy. He is a keen gardener and also a dab hand at housework — doing most of the shopping, cooking, washing and cleaning around the house to help his wife, who is a full-time school teacher.
One could be forgiven for thinking that there would be no time for anything else in Mike’s busy life, but he also manages to fit in two sessions of martial arts and one session of vascular training (cardio) every week without fail.
Not surprisingly, Mike’s body is in excellent shape.
He says that although he rarely thinks about his disease, he is aware of it, because of a slight uncomfortable feeling in his chest. When this becomes bothersome, he takes a pain reliever.
Aware that he is more fortunate than most when it comes to living with mesothelioma, Mike believes that his excellent good health and positive attitude have played a big part in how his body is fighting the disease.
Mike’s good health does not come about through chance. Apart from his physical regime, he is very strict when it comes to diet and resists anything containing sugar.
Eating mostly fish and organic chicken, along with lots of fresh vegetables from his own garden, Mike eats red meat once a week for its iron value.
He also swears by his Super Juice, a blend of fruit and vegetables that he takes religiously every day.
The amount you use depends on how much juice you wish to make at the time.
Mike stresses that lemons are very important to this mix, because they contain high levels of antioxidants as well as flavonoids.
He also recommends relaxation through complementary therapies, including meditation and spiritual healing.
“I’ve tried just about everything,” he says. “I have even had a prayer meeting held just for me; it was pretty powerful.”
Mike’s attitude toward his mesothelioma is, “I refuse to let this disease control my mind.”He has the following advice for other people who are living with mesothelioma:
Mike’s story is truly inspirational. He is determined to live until he is at least 75 or 80 and has the following message for the cancer in his body:
“Get out and walk, you filthy animal; I have too many people to see and too many places to go to let you control my life.”