7 July 2017
My husband has mesothelioma
Calvin was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year. His wife Sita shares their story.
Calvin’s cough had been hanging around for almost 6 weeks before we finally got it checked out by the GP. Less than a month later, Calvin and I went to the hospital lung clinic and the doctor broke the bad news, “It’s a form of cancer called mesothelioma, and it’s incurable.”
Glazed and shocked, we were taken into a small room and gently bombarded with information and leaflets by a sympathetic nurse.
The MARS 2 trial
Once we had begun to acclimatise to Calvin’s condition, we considered a trial that the doctor had suggested: the MARS 2 trial.
The trial was researching the effects of combining surgery with chemotherapy. It was testing if it improved the quality of life for people with mesothelioma. Everyone that took part in the trial would have chemotherapy, but half would be randomly selected to have surgery on top of that.
Our trial nurse assured us that we could sign up for the trial but then withdraw at any point if we changed our minds, even right up until he went down to the operating theatre. So we signed up for the trial, knowing that our options were still open.
Then we received the news
For the next 6 weeks, we agonised about whether to go ahead with the trial if Calvin were selected to have the surgery.
Then we received the news: Calvin had been selected for surgery. The operation was scheduled for a week later.
We agonised if we should still go ahead or not, but Calvin decided that he wanted to do anything that might help him to live better, or for longer. He also felt that clinical trials are the only way that new treatments are developed, and he wanted to help those who find themselves on this dreadful pathway like him. He's a better person than I am – I just want my Calvin to be as well as possible for as long as possible.
He was in the operating theatre for 10 hours
I waited in the hospital for the 10 hours that Calvin was in the operating theatre. The surgeon came out at the end to tell me that it had gone very well and he’d been able to remove all the cancer he could see.
I was allowed in to be with Calvin in the intensive care unit shortly afterwards. He had tubes coming out of everywhere but he could speak to me a little. It was horrible to see him like this.
10 days later, the last tube came out. We could leave hospital. It was Christmas day. I was just so happy that we could celebrate Christmas at home.
It seemed like he would never get better
We were told that Calvin would feel pretty rough for at least 6 months, but he should see an improvement in his quality of life after that. We had a lot of problems getting his pain relief right and it seemed at first like he would never get better.
I did doubt for a while whether surgery had been the better option, but now we're feeling much more positive and his pain relief is under control.
A recent scan shows that the cancer spread has been massively reduced. There is barely anything visible on the lung. The tumours could grow back in as little as 6 months, but our surgeon estimates a 40% chance that they might not grow again for up to 5 years.
We'll take those odds. Very happily.
Right now, there's no cure for mesothelioma. But you can help change this. We've spent over £6.5 million on mesothelioma research but there's still such a long way to go. Will you make a donation towards research and help us find a cure?