Posted on November 29, 2017

We have been touched by asbestos in individual ways, yet we are joined together by a bond of community. As a testament to the strength of our global family, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is highlighting the courageous stories of our members with the “Share Your Story” feature on our website.

This week, we would like to honor the story of Maggie, shared by herself, who is a part of our ADAO family. 

We encourage you to submit your personal stories by clicking here and following the simple instructions on the page. In sharing, comes healing. Remember, you are not alone.

“I’m Still Fighting Daily” – Maggie’s Story

Name: Maggie

Location: Missouri

Date of Birth: 1979

Diagnosis: Mesothelioma

Date of Diagnosis: 2015


How has asbestos changed your life? (Shared by Maggie – unedited)

January 5, 2015 at 3:00am I woke to horrible chest pains. At the time I was a month into my 35th birthday and lived alone. I had been dating my now husband Doug for two years. He took me to get checked out at the hospital since my primary doctor was out of town. The hospital ran a series of test but it wasn’t until they did a chest x-ray when they found a 1 inch by 2 inch tumor on my right lung. They suggested I get this checked out further but they were not equipped to perform a biopsy.

Later that day I got a call from my primary doctor – he was on vacation in Mexico but saw my test results and told me this was serious and I needed to get a biopsy. He had already scheduled it for a few days later. I was told that we should get the results in a few days. My Doctor was in constant contact but it took almost two weeks to hear the diagnosis, the hospital had sent my samples to three different labs to confirm the diagnosis. I remember is was a little after 5 pm on January 26 when my doctor called. I walked into my office and sat down, he offered for me to come to his office but at this point I had to know the diagnosis. He said you have something very rare called Mesothelioma. He scheduled a Dr. appointment with an oncologist at Barnes Jewish Hospital for January 28th.

I went to the appointment and the oncologist said he didn’t believe I had mesothelioma because I’m not a 75 year old male and my parents didn’t hold jobs tied to the asbestos industry. He then called a surgeon to consult on my case. The surgeon agreed and said I was too young to have mesothelioma and he suggested removal of two ribs and he would cut out the tumor and I would be back to work in 3 weeks. I reminded the doctors their lab conformed the diagnosis of mesothelioma but they refused to believe I had meso. I decided to get a second opinion.

On Feb 5 I arrived at Moffitt Cancer center in Tampa, FL and met with Dr. Fontaine. We had previously sent my slides and He confirmed I had Mesothelioma. In fact, it was plural, epithelia type and that the best course of treatment was surgery and chemo. On March 6 I had a Pleurectomy/decortication. When the doctor started the surgery we thought it was only in my lung but we found it had spread to my heart and my diaphragm. There are not enough words in the dictionary to describe the amount of pain I was in after my surgery. Directly after my surgery we started the process to harvest my eggs because the chemo would make me sterile. The daily shots in addition to the multiple medications I was taking was a horrific experience. After that surgery I started chemo. I took 2 different chemo drugs it took 6 hours to administer. All of this treatment took place in Florida, I had to be away from my Fiancé, friends and family for over 6 months while I completed each step of the treatment. Its been two years since my last chemo and I’m still fighting daily. The surgery caused permanent nerve damage that has left me on 16-20 different medications.

* * *