I recently read an article that was written about a man named Steve McQueen who had Mesothelioma. Steve McQueen was a famous movie actor in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This article was published in The New York Times almost 25 years since his passing. When reading the article, many things stood out to me. However, what stood out to me in particular was his path. When someone told him he had no more options in regard to his illness, he still moved forward.
The article briefly stated that Steve McQueen was diagnosed in December of 1979 with mesothelioma. His symptoms included a cough and shortness of breath. His prognosis was poor and his treatment included chemotherapy and radiation. Unfortunately, by the time press had gotten hold of his diagnosis in the 1980s, his doctors had already run out of options to treat his disease. Faced with this challenge, he set off for Mexico in July with hope of finding a treatment to a rare incurable disease. In Mexico, his treatment plan included vitamins, minerals, massages, injections of cell preparation just to name a few. He also had to undergo surgery in November of 1980 to remove some of the tumors that were in his abdomen and neck. The next day Steve McQueen passed.
What caught my attention most was the length that someone will go to beat this disease. Yes, not everyone has the same options as Mr. McQueen but the drive to get better cannot be bought or provided for someone. I recently met a man through work who came to a mesothelioma center with nine dollars in his pocket, no place to stay, just an appointment. Maybe this was not the most well thought out plan but the idea that one will do anything to get better is inspiring. This article and many other stories make me reflect on different situations in which people find strength and are willing to do anything to fight this disease.
Another situation also occurred where I met a patient whose son was a physician. The son had suggested to his dad a holistic approach and enemas. While this was not what the doctors had prescribed, they were willing to try anything to beat this disease, or at least lessen the pain. People are willing to do anything. That is what a mesothelioma center is about. Here, people are willing to fight the fight with a patient. A specialized center has more to offer than just standard care. As I reflect back, this drive was present in so many patients who passed through a center. Sometimes that was not enough but knowing that one did everything must bring peace. I have often heard doctors say to patients “what do you want? Do you want to fight” These are very simple questions but the answer is even more powerful.