“Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and utter loss can’t always be shared with family and friends.”
Jo reached out to Reflections in August 2022 as they struggled to navigate the terminal diagnosis that would take Mark’s life at the age of 59. This is their story…
Mark was my rock; he had become my caregiver after an accident ended my nursing career, and a series of unsuccessful surgeries put me in a wheelchair for a while. He took carers’ leave and accompanied me to all specialist appointments. Mark encouraged me to fight back and find something to focus on to aid my recovery. He supported my love of dogs, which my career didn’t really allow for, volunteering himself for all the puppy duties I couldn’t physically manage. Our darling labradoodle puppy, Ted, joined us in 2015. Ted turned my life around and, together with Mark, became the driving force behind my physical recovery.
I began studying to become a dog breeder. Mark and I registered Moogi Labradoodles with the Australian Labradoodle Association. We had our first litter in 2020. We were both totally in love with our dogs, and Mark utilised his amateur photography to capture beautiful memories for our puppy families.
To his knowledge, Mark hadn’t come across asbestos during his career or renovations at home. He grew up on a farm in rural England. His dad was a fireman in the 1970s, retrospectively, a potential source of asbestos fibers from his uniform after checking fire blankets. Mark and his younger brother used to play out on the farm with anything they could find when they were children. This could have been asbestos sheeting used for making dens… we will never know where the fibers that Mark ingested came from.
Towards the end of 2021, Mark had noticeably less energy and appeared to be depressed. He regularly saw his GP for diabetic blood tests, but nothing was ever flagged as abnormal. By March 2022, he was spending most weekends in bed and just managing to get through his working week as an IT security specialist. In May, his regular blood tests showed reduced red blood cells but still within normal ranges, so no major red flags. However, his GP referred him for a colonoscopy to check for bleeding, which was scheduled for early July.
Mark became sick the last week of June. He spent the week in bed unable to eat, just drinking electrolytes and having gastrointestinal problems. He refused to see his GP until day five and was then rushed to the emergency room, admitted to the Oncology ward, and subsequently diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma on his 59th birthday.
Mark’s diagnosis was terminal with a prognosis of 12 months. He received two rounds of chemotherapy to reduce the peritoneal tumour and bowel blockage and to allow him to return to a more normal diet. The chemo was unsuccessful, and six weeks after his emergency admission, he was discharged under hospice in-home care by Silverchain.
The day Mark was being transferred home was the day Lizz dropped everything and came to make sure I was okay and had everything needed to accommodate Mark’s needs at home. She checked that everything was arranged including the delivery of a hospital bed prior to Mark’s arrival home.
Lizz was the first person I’d spoken with who’d been on this journey. She made sure I knew what I needed to know and offered support in the days to come.
Silverchain were amazing, day and night, over the next three days. Mark was able to spend his last few days at home with me and our dogs by his side, as he wanted. I will always be so grateful for that. Silverchain continued their support for several weeks after Mark’s passing making sure that I was ok before signing off completely.
Lizz and Tracey continue to provide support and are the ones I brain-dump on. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and utter loss felt when powerless to save a loved one are things that don’t go away quickly and can’t always be shared with family and friends.
The Reflections team are pleased to support and care for people affected by mesothelioma. We’re mindful that there is life beyond the death of a loved one and we’re there to walk alongside.BACK TO NEWS