Survivor Finds Blessings Even in Coping With Mesothelioma

Stories from Survivors

Kevin Hession says he’s not going to let mesothelioma define him as a person. The 64-year-old is keeping a positive attitude after his diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma in August 2021. 

He says he’s not afraid to talk about his condition. In fact, Kevin believes it’s his personal mission to share the details of his journey and to educate those on a similar path. 

“I am really blessed that I even have this,” Kevin told The Mesothelioma Center at “I could have just as easily instantaneously died in a car crash and I wouldn’t have this. But now I have mesothelioma, it’s part of who I am.”

Kevin adds, “I’ve kind of embraced it. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I’m not mad. I’m not sad. I’m actually very much at peace with all of this. Mesothelioma is something I have, but it’s not defining who I am.”

Intense Pain Leads to Hospital Visits

His health started to become a concern after dealing with some shortness of breath and pain in his chest. In total, Kevin experienced 4 cases of pleurisy. The condition causes inflammation of tissue that lines the lungs and chest cavity. Kevin says his experience was excruciatingly painful.

“Any time you move, you cough, you laugh, you bend over or you get in a car with an active case of pleurisy you feel pain,” Kevin shared. “Anything that rubs up against the pleural sack is very painful.” 

The pain was bad, especially when he would lie down. It became so painful he was forced to go to the emergency room.

“With pleurisy case No. 3, I presented myself to the ER and the doctor wanted me to lie on the examination table,” he said. “I told the doctor I really don’t want to do this because it’s really going to hurt. And she said ‘No, no, no, it’s not going to hurt.’” 

“I said, ‘Doctor you don’t understand this is really going to hurt, it hurt when I got out of the car,” Kevin recalled. “And she said, ‘No, you’ve got to lie on the examination table.’”

Kevin says when he complied, the pain became so excruciating he found himself “screaming like I’ve never screamed before.” They then gave him morphine.

Repeat Pleurisy Cases Lead to Surgery

Following Kevin’s pleurisy case No. 4, he underwent exploratory surgery. His tests came back negative for cancer. After that he was referred to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Jacksonville. Kevin also went through 4 infusions of chemotherapy before undergoing decortication surgery in January 2022.

The surgeon found mesothelioma cells on his heart and on his diaphragm. The mesothelioma cells were scraped off. Soon after surgery he began receiving chemotherapy, which he still gets on a regular basis. 

“After my surgery, I was told my mesothelioma was stage 1-B,” Kevin explained. Stage 1 mesothelioma is considered early-stage. 

It’s rare for mesothelioma patients to be diagnosed in stage 1. Pleural mesothelioma originally develops on the lining around the lungs called the pleura. Stage 1B is when tumors begin spreading to other tissues near the pleura. Kevin hasn’t received an updated cancer stage since his procedure. 

Staying Positive While Living With Mesothelioma

Looking on the bright side is something Kevin says he does on a daily basis. He actually credits his mesothelioma diagnosis for a lot of positive situations in his life right now. 

“One of the positives about this is it caused me to get back in touch with friends who I haven’t talked to in years,” Kevin reflects. “I’m talking to some old high school buddies of mine, and they say I’m going to be in Florida on this date and can we get together.”

While coping with mesothelioma is very challenging, Kevin says it’s “exposing me to things that maybe I would not have done other than the fact that I have mesothelioma. Instead of feeling woe is me, I’m actually experiencing things that have been very positive.”

Right now Kevin is busy working on putting together a reunion for his former Marine Corps group, Fox Company Basic School Class of 1981. He’s planning on meeting up with them later in 2024. 

“It’s not a party,” he says. “I’m very realistic about all of this, but I’m making the most of what I have. I’m making the best of a bad situation. I am not going to let mesothelioma define who I am. It might be part of my life now, but it’s not going to control me on a daily basis.”

He emphasized, “I am not going to let this disease ruin what’s left of my life. That’s up to me to live my life to the fullest that I can for however many days God has planned for me to live. I’m not going to let this disease control how I live those last days, whether it’s one day or whether it’s ten years. I won’t let this disease control me.”

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