This week’s guest blog is written by Virgil Anderson. He shares his story below.

Virgil was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by his exposure to asbestos while working in demolition and excavation. When he was diagnosed with mesothelioma he needed immediate medical attention. He found a few websites on the internet that are supposed to help people with mesothelioma cancer but says nobody got back to him. Then he found Mesothelioma.net, and even though he contacted them on a Sunday, one of their patient advocates gave him a call back within minutes. They gave him a great deal of helpful information on doctors and resources available to him. As a result of their website, he is now being treated at the National Cancer Institute and the patient advocates have even provided him with financial assistance so he could afford a place to live during his chemotherapy.

There is currently no cure for mesothelioma, but researchers across the world are dedicated to finding a drug, treatment or surgical procedure that can help millions of people. Currently, there are many pathways being forged toward a cure for mesothelioma.

Physical Removal: According to the American Cancer Society, malignant cancers can be treated with some invasive procedures. Removing the cancer from the lung’s lining is possible in patients with early-stage symptoms. Doctors must verify if the cancer is shallow enough to cut out in the first place, however. These surgeries are serious and complicated, which makes them only applicable to strong patients. Deeply embedded growths may not be possible to remove.

Chemotherapy: The use of drugs has long been a solution to cancer, but with varying results. Chemotherapy is the process of adding drugs to the bloodstream for equal distribution around the body. The substance targets cancer cells so that they can die off faster than they replicate. There are always side effects to chemotherapy, however, so doctors are looking for alternative ways to treat the ailment. Many healthy cells are also affected by chemo, which makes it a difficult treatment to deal with as a patient.

Radiation Alternative: Another option for cancer patients is radiation therapy, states the National Cancer Institute. Radiation involves X-ray technology that’s either applied from an external location or offered through internal pathways, such as injections. Radiation works in the same manner as chemotherapy by eradicating cancer cells. Doctors must initially determine which treatment is the best choice for patients when radiation therapy is an option. Each cancer is unique with various strategies to hold it at bay.

Clinical Trials: Today’s treatments for lung cancer are varied, and more procedures are constantly being introduced through clinical trials. Patients can volunteer for these trials so that they can be first in line for a new drug or cancer-cure strategy. Doctors must verify that a patient is a good candidate, however, because each trial has its benefits and drawbacks. At some point, one drug might be found to significantly reduce the number of cancer cases.

Managing the Condition: Because science is still looking for a solution to all cancers, managing a lung condition takes some trial and error. Patients should visit their doctor on a regular basis for checkups. Various treatments, medicines and other strategies may need to be implemented as cancers change, grow or shrink. With the help of a cancer specialist, many mesothelioma patients live on in relative comfort with the ailment in control.

Cancer patients should always partner with a doctor who specialises in lung or respiratory ailments. These professionals work directly with patients, and they try to find unique ways to treat the cancer. It’s possible that a lung cancer solution will arise in the near future.

Today, Virgil advocates for patients with mesothelioma on behalf of Mesothelioma.net. He says he feels blessed to be able to spend time with his family and share his story with other people living with mesothelioma. While he has been through a lot and is still challenged by physical pain and limitations after having a lung removed, he sees every day as a gift. He hopes his story brings resilience and positivity to people living with mesothelioma and other rare diseases.

We at Findacure are grateful to Virgil for getting in touch and writing this blog for us. His story reinforces the idea that patient groups are lifelines for rare disease patients, who might struggle to find credible information elsewhere. This is why we run our patient group empowerment programmes – to ensure patient groups themselves have the support, knowledge and connections needed to build their capacity, support their patients, and drive research into treatments. Please note that information contained in this blog should not be interpreted as medical advice.