Below is the touching story of Virgil Anderson, an American battling Mesothelioma cancer.
He wrote DAYLIGHT.NG via our sister publication, SHOWBIZPLUSNG, pleading with us to publish his moving story, which he hopes would create awareness about the killer disease as well as save lives.
Below is the full and unedited story published exclusively on your leading online newspaper, DAYLIGHT.NG.
Stories about living with and fighting against mesothelioma are few and far between because this is a rare cancer. Although it isn’t common, mesothelioma has devastated the lives of thousands of people who were exposed to asbestos. One of those people is Virgil Anderson, who worked his entire career around asbestos without ever being warned about the risks. Now he is suffering the consequences.
Demolishing Old Buildings with Asbestos
Virgil grew up in small-town West Virginia. His family didn’t have much, so as soon as he was old enough, he went to work. In high school he got a job doing physical labor. The majority of the work was in demolition. Older homes were often constructed with asbestos, a mineral that was used to insulate, fireproof, and add strength to materials. It was used in insulation, wall board, joint compounds, adhesives, flooring, roofing, and siding, among many other construction materials.
As Virgil tore down those older buildings, he didn’t realize that the swirl of dust around him contained the tiny but deadly fibers of asbestos. Without warning and without protective gear, he inhaled those fibers as he worked.
Working on Cars
After high school Virgil was able to get better and more skilled work, first tearing out and replacing hood liners in cars, and then working as a trained mechanic. Asbestos was used in cars as well. In the hood liners he tore out, asbestos had been used to insulate and keep the hood from overheating. In the brakes and clutches that he took out, repaired, and replaced, asbestos was used to resist overheating from friction. Once again, was exposed to asbestos fibers without realizing the danger or the risks.
A Mesothelioma Diagnosis – The Risks of Asbestos
All of those tiny fibers of asbestos that Virgil inhaled over the years would come back to haunt him. Not everyone who is exposed to asbestos gets sick, but those who do suffer from the damage the small, needle-like fibers cause as the lodge in the tissues of the body. Because the fibers are often inhaled, they get stuck in the tissue around the lungs, called the pleura. Here they cause damage that can lead to a number of illnesses.
For Virgil that illness would turn out to be pleural mesothelioma, a caner of the pleural tissue. Around the age of 50, after working for decades, Virgil began to experience troubling respiratory symptoms, such as a persistent cough, chest pains, and shortness of breath. In the emergency he was diagnosed with pneumonia, but antibiotics didn’t help and his symptoms only got worse. Eventually Virgil would get the right diagnosis, that he had developed mesothelioma after years of working with and around asbestos.
Treatment for Mesothelioma
Getting treatment for mesothelioma proved challenging for Virgil, as there are few specialists qualified to work with this rare cancer. Ultimately he was able to secure financial assistance and care through the National Cancer Institute. Working with a specialist he was determined to undergo the most aggressive treatments he could. Although he didn’t qualify for surgery, he opted for chemotherapy to try to keep the cancer in check.
Virgil now lives with the burden of this preventable disease and the prognosis that does not give him long to live. At the age of 50 he was faced with a death sentence. He continues to fight, but even with treatment this is a cancer that is extremely difficult to beat. Virgil struggles with symptoms but has family by his side and a medical team doing its best to keep him comfortable and fighting.