How do I know if I or a loved one has mesothelioma? It’s not an easy disease to diagnose.
Mesothelioma is statistically a rare disease, so most of the people who will see it’s symptoms first (such as your local family doctor), may not recognize the disease or may misdiagnose it as something else.
You can read the warning signs, but they sound like the same warning signs of hundreds of other diseases.
The reality is that families often bounce from doctor to doctor and even different specialists hoping to find someone to give them answers on why their loved one is not feeling as well as they should.
The answers often come after a series of events similar to this one submitted by a family member in hopes of helping others:
Al’s Story (submitted by his son)…
My father Al was the picture of health. At age 56, he was fit and active and seemed to have the world by the tail. That is, until he came back from a hunting trip one November.
Over the next month, Dad complained of feeling short of breath, even a little dizzy and lethargic. He was coughing more than usual
Dad thought maybe it was just age and he should exercise a bit more. So he started back on a light exercise program which only seemed to make matters worse.
By January, he was feeling so weak and short of breath that he decided to consult our family doctor.
During that initial visit, Dad checked out fine. The doctor didn’t see anything that would explain his symptoms so he referred us to a cardiologist. The heart doctor didn’t have any answers either and referred him to a pulmonologist as well as a local cancer specialist.
Between all the waiting and referrals, weeks went by and my Dad quickly got worse and worse.
By the time he saw the cancer specialist, he could barely breathe. We all knew something was wrong, but no one seemed to be able to figure out what it was.
The cancer specialist did all of the usual cancer screenings which came up negative.
At first we were relieved, but with no answers, the worry continued.
The cancer doctor made a few calls to some colleagues but didn’t speculate to our family what might be wrong. He then scheduled my Dad for a thoracoscopy – a procedure to deflate the lungs so they could take a biopsy of his chest or pleural cavity.
The procedure started as planned, but went much longer than expected. Our entire family waited for news as hour after hour went by.
Finally, the doctor came out and told us that Dad had thousands of tiny tumors in his chest caused by asbestos exposure. The disease he had was called mesothelioma, and he had just a few months left to live.
We went from not knowing what was wrong to a death sentence in one day.
The doctor asked us if my Dad had ever worked someplace like a shipyard or been exposed to asbestos products like insulation. We answered yes on both accounts.
He suggested we make my Dad comfortable and start making preparations.
A friend suggested we talk to an attorney since Dad’s disease was likely work-related. However, our family attorney handled real estate and a few family matters, but knew nothing about personal injury, must less this type of specialized case.
Luckily, our family attorney made a few calls and found a law firm in New Orleans that knew everything about this type of case. We made an appointment and they came out to help our family within a few days.
We’re Here to Help
If your family is dealing with a similar situation, please reach out to us for help.
A member of our team will help point you in the right direction so you can get the immediate medical care you need from qualified specialists and will also help you understand your legal rights.