Getting ‘that’ diagnosis is a terrible shock that leaves you reeling.
The first few months can be so difficult as you try to get your head around it, whether it’s you or a loved one. My husband Rod had been secretly preparing himself for his diagnosis as his Mum had died from mesothelioma in 2005, but it still brought our lives, as we knew it, to a screeching halt.
Initially, all we heard was that standard prognosis, the “average” survival time which is all they can give you. Rod had an urgency to start treatment, get the compensation case happening ASAP, and get his affairs in order. But then what? We did a lot of things online, so we searched out survivors – and found several people out there around the world who were surviving numbers of years after diagnosis. Once treatment started and Rod was feeling reasonably good, we were able to sit back a little and think about what next. The following is something Rod wrote at that time:
“I was angry, saddened and depressed at my imminent demise for a while. I quickly learnt that being angry, sad and depressed was no way to live your life. It was also no way to die. We embraced what we had left and did things that mere mortals only dream about.”
We both loved to travel, and we made a conscious plan to travel as much as we could whenever Rod was feeling well enough between treatments. When he was on the initial chemo, that meant planning a week away almost every three weeks, because he managed to feel quite normal during that third week and we weren’t going to waste it. He had some breaks between chemo cycles where we took bigger trips. We took that European cruise along the Rhine and other bucket-list trips. His daughter got married in New Zealand, so we went for that and what became an incredibly memorable family holiday with the whole gang in the snow.
We had whole family weekends away with all 10 of us plus grandkids, we bought a caravan and went on trips within our state. We later decided to swap that for a boat so that Rod could fulfil another life dream. He had toyed with learning to play guitar a few years earlier, so he tried a bit of that when he felt like it. He went back to creating art – another thing that had fallen away through the years. He made the decision to fall back into the things that brought him joy, and I was there to enjoy every moment with him.
He entered one of his paintings in an art competition through Palliative Care Australia with the theme “Live as well as possible, as long as possible” and he won the Emerging Artist award. The competition theme was around palliative care, and his entry – a painting of the two of us jumping off the boat into the water and enjoying the sunset – was titled “Silver Lining”.
Rod survived more than four years living with mesothelioma, and later this is what he wrote:
“Even taking away the treatment, the last four years have been some of the busiest years of my life. We’ve travelled more, experienced more and experienced new things, seen our children get married and the arrival of beautiful grandkids.”
He knew what having mesothelioma meant and that it wouldn’t last forever, but he was very glad that he didn’t waste any of his time. He felt that he had lived a full life and had many adventures that made him happy. His family and I are grateful for all the extra wonderful memories we made with him too.
Rod fought a good fight for almost four and a half years, passing in March 2022. He never gave up hope, living and loving to the end. You can find Rod’s story here, where he shared his very real journey in regular blog articles.BACK TO NEWS