Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Update and an Appeal

First an update:  I'm writing this from the clinic while getting the first dose of my "maintenance therapy", which I'll get every two months for the next two years.  It consists of one drug, Rituxan, which is an antibody that targets certain cells to keep the cancer from coming back, at least for a long time.  Since my last post, I've been back at work full time and slowly getting back into normal life.  The surgery to open the collapsed stent in my artery was a success and I can now jog without my left leg going numb.  I've also been going to physical therapy a couple times a week to regain strength in my legs and core to be able to get back into running.  Everything has been going smoothly, I just have to remember it's a slow road back and not to overdo it.  They say it's a minimum four months to around a year until I'll regain my full strength.  My physical therapist said the top priority right now is to "reign me in."

The most important update is of course the birth of baby #3 - our son Dax Joseph was born on 9/4.  He is perfect in every way and we're enjoying being a family of five (despite the obvious adjustments!)  Tiffany is doing great and powering through the sleep deprivation phase right now like a champ.  Life continues to go on and I know there are great things in store for us.  The three most important things that got me through the cancer diagnosis and treatment will continue to get us through whatever challenges lay ahead: strong faith, a positive attitude, and a sense of humor.

Next I want to make an appeal.  I'm participating in the Light the Night walk to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on October 2nd.  I'm trying to gain sponsors  in order to support this great organization that has been such a huge resource for me during this time.  I owe my long term survival chances to the recent medical breakthroughs that have been funded and promoted by them.  I'm blessed to know so many generous people, so if you have the means, please consider donating here - even the smallest amount will make a difference! http://pages.lightthenight.org/ma/Nashua14/JDeLangie  Thank you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Is Mesothelioma?

Now that I'm officially finished with my treatment and setbacks (no more setbacks!), I'm looking forward to being able to give back and help others.  One of the ways I hope to be able to do that is to use this space to bring awareness to certain causes, especially dealing with cancer.  To that end, I was recently asked to participate in a campaign to raise awareness about mesothelioma, which is a preventable type of cancer that is only caused by exposure to asbestos.  Having a relative who is a mesothelioma survivor, I was more than willing to help out and I learned a few things as well.

Up until now, the only thing I knew about mesothelioma was what I saw on TV commercials for lawsuit settlements.  The fact is that asbestos causes cancer; this type specifically.  I was shocked to learn that asbestos is not banned in the United States.  That seems like it would be a no brainer.  It should go without saying then that you should avoid any contact with asbestos, as total avoidance is the best prevention.  The truth is that even minor exposure can be deadly; it's not only an issue for people who worked in factories and had contact with it for years.  While it's not used even close to as much as it was in the past, it can still be found in old buildings.  Living in New England, we have plenty of those.  

Mesothelioma can also lie dormant for 20- 50 years before symptoms start manifesting, so if you had exposure years ago, don't brush off the symptoms (low back pain, side chest pain, shortness of breath, in addition to many others.)  The current five year survival rate is a low 10%, but that goes up significantly when the disease is caught in the early stages.  That is a sobering statistic, and even more reason to take asbestos exposure seriously.

For more information, go to www.mesothelioma.com