Editor’s note: Katherine Keys is a guest blogger this week. This is her story.
I have been fighting Mesothelioma for 10 years. When I was first diagnosed, doctors told me I had less than two years to live. I refused to believe my time was limited and instead decided to fight the cancer. I am convinced that it was my positive attitude and determination to win that have allowed me to survive against the odds.
At first I thought I had the flu. I was prescribed medication and painkillers but the pain persisted. When the pain was too much to take, I went to the ER. There I discovered I had cancer. I was 49 years old and diagnosed with Stage 1 pleural mesothelioma.
For treatment, I had my right lung and the lining of the lung removed, a major surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). After several months of recovery, I began radiation treatments. I had treatments five times per week for several months. Although I had been scheduled for chemotherapy, I was relieved to learn that I didn’t have to have them.
Upon completing my treatments, I attended my regularly scheduled follow-up appointments. At first, they were monthly, then every two months, three months, six months…and now annually. My follow-up appointments typically consistent of blood tests, a PET scan, x-rays and other tests to confirm that I am still cancer-free. The doctors and staff at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, are true miracle workers and I am forever grateful to them.
I was also greatly helped by the patient advocates at MesotheliomaLawyerCenter.org. Not only did they help me obtain financial compensation which helped with my treatments and quality of life, they genuinely cared about my well-being. I am proud to call them my friends and they continue to stand by my side as I fight mesothelioma. Their website is filled with a plethora of comprehensive information surrounding mesothelioma and the trust funds that are available to certain victims.
Today, I feel blessed to be able to spend time with my family and share my story with other people living with mesothelioma. While I have been through a lot and I am still challenged by physical pain and limitations after having a lung removed, I see every day as a gift. I hope my story brings resilience and positivity to people living with mesothelioma.