During my time at the International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, I met a “mesothelioma warrior,” which is what the community affectionately calls survivors. He told me that when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, he immediately went to Google and performed a search. He typed in “mesothelioma,” and thankfully, Google led him to the Meso Foundation (formerly the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation or MARF).
After visiting the Meso Foundation’s website, he wrote an e-mail to Mary Hesdorffer, the Executive Director and a nurse practitioner. About an hour later, Mary called him and asked him to read his diagnosis to her. She then connected him to a mesothelioma expert and with that, his treatment journey began. That Google search and subsequent phone call, he said, saved his life.
This story is amazing, but not unique. This survivor, like so many, owes his life to Mary and the Meso Foundation. Countless patients and caregivers told me how lucky they feel to have made this life-changing connection as well. Over the 2 days I spent at the symposium, I discovered that Mary fields about 600 phone calls every month. Let me repeat that: 600 phone calls every month. She then connects those patients to mesothelioma experts nationwide and even globally.
I don’t think I’m far off saying that as a result of those connections, mesothelioma patients have gotten better treatment. There have also been great strides made in mesothelioma research. And as I saw firsthand at the conference, “mesothelioma warriors” are living longer. No longer is it for 1 or 2 years, but now survivors are far exceeding doctors’ expectations and living for 7, 9, and even 13 years. It’s remarkable.
And much of the credit goes to Mary and her dedicated staff at the Meso Foundation. The symposium was like a giant family reunion. It was inspiring to see the smiles on patients’ faces when they first saw each other. It felt similar to soldiers greeting one another upon returning from war. It seemed like they were thinking, “You’re still here. You made it through the battlefield.”
Without Mary and the sensational Meso Foundation team, many of these people would not be here. Not only do they refer patients to doctors, they also advocate for federal funding of mesothelioma research. In fact, the Meso Foundation has raised over $9 million to date.
While you have found our site, Mesothelioma Help Now, we know you will research countless other mesothelioma resources. We encourage you to contact the incredible team at the Meso Foundation and the community they support. They may be able to help you too.