From the moment a person is given a cancer diagnosis, there is fear of the unknown and worry about what happens next. Being faced with a terminal illness can be very difficult and challenging. It often involves coming to terms with the fact that you're facing the end of your life, and how to bring closure. At the same time you may be supporting your family as they cope with what it means for them. For Dee's family the first step was to figure out what this mesothelioma diagnosis actually meant.
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer. Malignant (cancerous) cells develop in the mesothelium, the protective sac that covers most of the body’s internal organs. Mesothelioma generally starts in the outer membrane of the lungs (pleura), but can also occur in the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). Uncommonly, the heart or reproductive organs may be affected. Treatment depends on where the cancer is found and whether it has spread.
Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma unless it is found early and can be removed through surgery. Unfortunately, symptoms of mesothelioma do not usually show up until it is in its late stages. This means mesothelioma is most often diagnosed when it has already advanced beyond the option of surgical removal. If this is the case, treatment will aim to prolong life and keep the person as comfortable as possible. Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos and can develop decades after the exposure.
Asbestos is in a lot of our buildings in New Zealand. And lots of our schools! If you are diagnosed with Mesothelioma in New Zealand and you can prove that you were exposed through your workplace, you will receive assistance from ACC. If you contracted mesothelioma off of your partners/parents clothes, from going onto their worksite or from an aftershock while at school, then you are not covered by ACC and the cost to fight Mesothelioma is large. We must change the ACC act in New Zealand. It is not your fault if you breathe in a fibre, (and one is all it takes), of a toxic building material. And ACC is New Zealand's no fault insurer... right?
It's simple to set up, free to try, and it can make a world of difference for your family if something happens to you.