Mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma’s symptoms develop over several years, sometimes taking decades to present. Because of this, most patients are not diagnosed until the cancer has developed into the later stages of disease. There are several reasons why mesothelioma is generally associated with an unfavorable prognosis; however, there have been reports of mesothelioma patients who outlive the standard survival rates. From these patients, researchers, scientists, and physicians have been able to gather a great deal of information concerning better treatment options, and other methods for defeating mesothelioma.
Paul Kraus is an Australian man who has lived for a considerable amount of time with mesothelioma. Kraus’ asbestos exposure occurred in the summer of 1962 while he was working. Kraus was not diagnosed until 1997, and has managed to live for over a decade, despite general survival rates. Kraus credits alternative therapies such as ozone therapy, as well as other unique methods for treating his cancer. For the most part, Kraus has undergone various alternative treatments, altered his diet, and implemented various medications as a means of living with his disease. His diet changes include foods that are nutrient rich and able to eliminate toxins within the body. Kraus maintains a positive outlook concerning his prognosis and shares his experiences in his book Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers.
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In 1982, the popular American author and scientist, Stephen Jay Gould was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. In opposition to Kraus’ extremely spiritual approach to healing, Gould opted for a more scientific tactic. Gould carefully examined the statistics and life expectancy rates concerning his disease and published those findings, as well as his own approach to finding hope in the inspirational essay, “The Median is Not the Message.” Gould ended up surviving mesothelioma for 20 years following his diagnosis, passing away in 2002.
Other Survivors of Note
Gould and Kraus tend to be the most well-known survivors of mesothelioma, but they are not the only ones. Several other people have surpassed their initial prognosis:
- Sissy Hoffman (15 years)—Sissy was originally only given six months to live; instead, she and her doctors decided on a multimodal approach to her treatment where she underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Sissy was able to return to her job as a teacher.
- Darlene Coker (12 years)—Coker underwent surgery for her mesothelioma in 1997 and lived for another 12 years before passing away in 2009.
- Mike Dews (10 years)—Dews’ first surgery for mesothelioma treatment occurred in 2001, after which he underwent multiple other surgical procedures. Dews credited his good condition as a product of support from loved ones.
- Karen Grant (7 years)—Grant was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2004, she is currently cancer-free and maintains a positive attitude.
- Heather Von St. James (5 years)—while pregnant with her daughter, Von St. James underwent an extrapleural pneumonectomy in 2006. She credits her faith and support from other cancer patients for helping her get through these experiences and survive mesothelioma.
Each case of mesothelioma is unique. Physicians and scientists alike continue to study these exceptional cases of survival rates, using them to improve treatments and extend life expectancy. Other factors that influence a patient’s survival rate are their overall age, type of mesothelioma, stage of cancer, and general health at the time of diagnosis. Those patients who supplement their treatments with proper nutrition and exercise tend to have a better quality of life than patients who do not. Support systems are also paramount to a sense of health and well-being.