By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family

Portrait of a Mesothelioma Advocate

mesothelioma advocate

As an advocate for cancer patients and their families, I daily hear from people facing cancer. Recently, a gentleman named Virgil wrote to me about his experience, Doctors recently diagnosed Virgil with mesothelioma. This diagnosis turned Virgil’s life upside down.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that forms in the thin protective tissues which cover the lungs and the abdomen. Exposure to asbestos causes cancer in the mesothelium tissues. This cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a group of silicate minerals that are fibrous in nature and functions well as a fire retardant. It was once a commonly used insulator. Now that the dangers of asbestos are well known, it has fallen out of use. It can still be found in old buildings and machines. The United States is one of the only developed countries that has not outlawed the use of asbestos, entirely.

Virgil’s Story

Throughout his life, Virgil has had many jobs that have exposed him to asbestos, including automotive and demolition work, I’ve. He says, “On some jobs, the air was so thick with debris and asbestos you could taste it in your mouth.”

Virgil can no longer work and now, mostly lives off of social security disability. Because of fluid buildup in his lungs, he has to be careful about overexerting himself. He has a portable oxygen tank which gives him some mobility. Still, he must limit his activities, Virgil spends a lot of his time spreading awareness and informing others about the resources that helped him on his journey.

Finding resources isn’t always easy

Virgil says, “When I was diagnosed I needed immediate medical attention. I contacted all the top websites on the internet that are supposed to help people with my type of cancer but nobody got back to me.” Then he found “Even though I contacted them on a Sunday one of their patient advocates gave me a call back within minutes.”

Virgil found valuable information at; information on mesothelioma treatments and doctors, asbestos trust funds for victims, and a lot more. They also sponsor The American Cancer Society, the MD Cancer Center, and the Make a Wish Foundation “They gave me a great deal of helpful information on doctors and resources available to me.”

Mesothelioma advocate

Virgil is now receiving cancer treatment at the National Cancer Institute. The patient advocates have even provided him with financial assistance so he could afford a place to live during his cancer treatments. “If I had not reached out to, I would likely be homeless and more importantly in hospice waiting to die. These people gave me my only chance at survival.”

Advocate: Paying it Forward

One of the most important things you can do to ensure your survival is to advocate for yourself. Virgil is an amazing example of an advocate. He searched for information and assistance and is now sharing that information with others. If you have Mesothelioma, check out the information at and the mesothelioma resource page at Facing Cancer with Grace.


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In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

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17 comments on “Portrait of a Mesothelioma Advocate

Hi Heather thanks for sharing this article. Asbestos related diseases are a silent killer and I think the more articles like this that can get out there to help educate people the better.


Thank you, Brendan. It’s so important for people to learn the dangers of asbestos. Have a great day!

Cancer therapy is personalised, which is why treatments can vary. The choice of treatment is influenced by the location of the tumour, distribution, cell type and the patient’s overall condition as well as possible other illnesses


Hi, Cancer Prevention. Thank you for bringing up this important point. The best thing a person can do is to seek treatment from a reputable oncologist you trust. They can give you, the patient, the individualized information you need to make an informed decision about your treatment. Then, they can work with you to ensure your well being throughout your course of treatment, and beyond. No two patients are alike. Have a great week!

Davis Duvall

Asbestos related diseases are a silent killer and I think the more articles like this that can get out there to help educate people the better?


Thank you, Davis. Have a wonderful week!

Thanks for sharing this wonderful information.
Naresh recently posted…Mesothelial CellsMy Profile


You’re welcome, Naresh. Thanks for stopping by!

Matilda Trimpe

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Thanks for sharing this information I’m so glad to read this the content you presented in this site is wonderful and it’s going to help a number of people…God Bless you…

Thanks for sharing this information I’m so glad to read this the content you presented in this site is wonderful and it’s going to help a number of people…and I’m going to share this article with my neighborhood she has been suffering from cancer for five years…


Thank you, Dr. Geetha. We can all use the struggle we are in to help others. At least then, it isn’t in vain. Have a good week!

Great article. Thank you for putting this article on your website, keep on educating us, wish you the very best recently posted…Finding the Best Mesothelioma Lawyer and Why Hire a Mesothelioma AttorneyMy Profile


Thank you, Busitechnews. Have a fantastic week!

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