Patient ProfilesPosted by Nancy Meredith on Monday, Nov 5, 2012
Pleural Mesothelioma Patient Says Faith, Positive Attitude Got Him Through His Treatments
After everything Don Smitley has gone through this year to treat his pleural mesothelioma – surgery, chemotherapy, participation in a clinical trial, pain and exhaustion – he has still kept his positive attitude.
“It can always be worse,” he says.
Those who don’t know Smitley may find it hard to believe that he actually believes that is true after he was diagnosed with one of the most aggressive cancers. But his family and friends know that Smitley is special. Faced with the biggest challenge of his life, Smitley still maintains that his glass is half-full.
Smitley was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in January. Immediately, he began an aggressive treatment program. In fact, he reported to work on a Saturday in Pennsylvania. On Monday morning, he was on an operating room table. Under the care of two of the nation’s leading mesothelioma experts, Dr. Harvey Pass of NYU Langone Medical Center and Dr. Lee Krug of Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Smitley beat mesothelioma. He is now moving on with his life.
Although Smitley has kept a positive outlook, he admits that his journey has not been an easy one. Following surgery, he experienced “serious pain.” It was something he thought he’d never have to endure. But with a caring and patient wife and family, a responsive medical team and his faith, he was able to work through it. He went from lying in a bed in pain to playing for his beloved bluegrass band, the Dunbar Boys, just eight months later.
When asked what his message would be to other people fighting mesothelioma, Smitley doesn’t hesitate to reply.
“Try to keep a positive attitude,” he says.
It is too easy to worry about whether the cancer will come back, he adds.
“Keep yourself busy. Get out and talk to people. Walk around the mall, or just do something that keeps your mind from thinking about what could happen,” he says.
MesotheliomaHelp.net will soon be running a series of articles about Don Smitley’s journey during his fight against pleural mesothelioma.