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I started this blog as part of my journey of making the most out of whatever life threw at me. Thus, I name this blog Making LOL – Making Lemons Out of Lemonade. My hope is to inspire people to overcome adversity with grace and humor. When life throws you really difficult challenges, like losing someone you love, dealing with cancer/other chronic illnesses or (in my case) losing the life you have built for years , it can be difficult to understand why we have to go through such a painful experience. During these times, I hope you find the courage to keep your faith and find the strength to deal with the challenges with grace.
Today, I have a guest I would like to introduce to you.
Virgil Anderson was born and raised in Williamson, West Virginia. He is currently battling mesothelioma. It is a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure over long period of time. In most cases, the exposure was due to unsafe workplace practices. About 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with this kind of cancer each year.
“Mesothelioma is considered an extremely rare condition. Its incidence is falling in the United States as a result of the ban on the use of asbestos that was instituted in the mid-1980s. It is extremely common in Australia and Europe, and its incidence is on the rise in many places in the world where asbestos continues to be used. Globally over 14,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.”
Through his cancer story, Virgil is hoping to shed the dangers of asbestos exposure in the workplace for the younger generation entering the workforce.
Here’s his story in his own words.
My name is Virgil Anderson. My experience with mesothelioma has been a difficult one. I was exposed to asbestos through the work I did as a young man. Now, I am paying the price by being diagnosed with this rare cancer. It causes uncomfortable, painful symptoms and it limits my ability to get around.
And yet, I have managed to maintain hope and a positive perspective as I am fighting this disease.
My Story – Asbestos in the Workplace
My story begins with my upbringing in West Virginia. We all worked hard in my family, and we had to in order to make ends meet. As soon as I was old enough for a real, paying job, I got into demolition. I did this as a teenager when I was young, strong and able to do this tough, physical work.
As I helped tearing down old buildings, I remember about being constantly surrounded by dust. Only later did I realize that there were asbestos fibers in the dust. I was inadequately protected from it.
Later on in life, I got more skilled work. I l took up work as an auto mechanic, which was much more interesting and better paying. Throughout my career in this industry, I also did work that caused me to be exposed to asbestos.
I tore out hood liners, which had been made with asbestos to protect against the heat of the engine. I also removed and replaced brakes and clutches on a regular basis. Opening up those parts, the dust would fly, and again it was asbestos.
Mesothelioma Cancer Diagnosis
At the age of 50, I was diagnosed with mesothelioma. At first, I got really sick. I had always been in good physical shape, but I could barely walk to the mailbox without getting winded. I had chest pains and a cough that wouldn’t go away.
Ending up in the emergency room, I was first diagnosed with pneumonia. Antibiotics didn’t help, so I got a second opinion. It was mesothelioma.
Family Keeps Me Going
Life since my diagnosis has been really tough. I managed to find treatment and financial support through the National Cancer Institute, but my cancer is already advanced. I was not a candidate for surgery for this reason, but I have had chemotherapy treatments to slow the growth of the tumors.
Both the cancer and the treatment cause symptoms and side effects that make it difficult to get around and impossible to work.
What really keeps me going and motivates me to keep fighting are my family and my faith. Without my family, I don’t know where I would be. Since I can’t work, I can’t earn and I rely on them to provide me with a home and to take care of me.
I know I may not survive this cancer, but I take comfort in my faith, and in the time I still have with the people I love.
I also advocate for worker safety in the trades. Exposing the dangers of asbestos to youth entering the workforce gives me a sense of satisfaction and purpose. If I can help prevent our future generation from being exposed to the dangers I was, then that gives me a sense of purpose.
My message to others is to find your own source of comfort and inspiration. Never take for granted the important things in life, like family.
I am sorry that cancer knocks at your door. I am glad that you find comfort in your faith and family. They are truly the foundations of a meaningful life. Thank you for being an advocate for worker safety in the workplace and help prevent more people from unknowingly exposing themselves to asbestos.
I hope you can find comfort, strength and grace as you are dealing with this battle.
- If you (or your loved ones) are dealing with mesothelioma, you can find resources to help you navigate this uncharted territory at Mesothelioma.net – They have free information on everything about mesothelioma and the latest treatment options. You can also learn from survivors of the cancer and get some financial help for your treatments.
- Listening to inspiring Christian music and reading my bible help me keep my faith in Him through my struggle. I hope it will help you too.
- Recommended reading: Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended to Bear by Max Lucado. This book helps me tremendously as I was going through my dark moments. It teaches you how to release your emotional burdens (such as fears, hopelessness, guilt, grief, weariness, fear of death, homesickness, etc.) by laying it all down at the foot of the cross.
- Recommended eBooks/eCourses:
Please pass along the article to help spread awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure. Thank you.